It’s almost incomprehensible that every year the police and fire service spend all of Easter Saturday night literally putting out fires rather than being able to stay home with their families or go to church on an important religious festival.
That’s on top of the harassment and nuisance caused in the weeks prior, as most of these delinquents don’t even wait until Easter Saturday to set off firecrackers or damage property in residential areas.
Even though police had already confiscated thousands of firecrackers this year, clearly there were thousands more in circulation as bangs were being set off most of the night.
And, the problem seems to be growing worse every year, yet no one seems able to come up with a solution. Although the fines are pretty hefty, the culprits must be caught first before any sort of deterrence can be imposed. They usually scatter when police show up.
On Saturday night, two people lost fingers when playing around with fireworks. It’s hard to have any sympathy for them and perhaps they will have learned a valuable lesson going forward.
However, another two people were injured as well. One man who tried to remove a firecracker from a churchyard sustained injuries to his hand, and another on Friday night almost lost an eye when someone threw a firecracker in his direction. Both of these incidents could just as easily have involved a child.
Easter Saturday has turned into a vandalism free-for-all that has nothing at all to do with the traditional idea of a bonfire symbolising the burning of Judas, which decades ago used to take place on a smaller scale and was treated as a solemn occasion.
Now it’s about who can build the biggest fire and cause the most impact with competing gangs of youths stealing wood and other materials from anywhere they can get their hands on it. Setting fire to cars is the latest addition.
The fire service has appealed to local authorities to clean up trash from their areas prior to Easter but it does not seem to help. Fires are banned, fines are hefty, firecrackers are being confiscated so there does not seem to be much else that authorities can do other than put the entire police force on the streets on Easter Saturday, or impose a curfew. However, this would also impact genuine churchgoers.
Drones are an option for capturing some of the fire-starters perhaps but only a move away from the ‘tradition’ altogether will eventually solve the problem and that will involve a change in mentality. This will be difficult as it is ingrained.
Photos from Saturday night showed adults taking their small children to watch firecrackers being set off and to gawk at bonfires so it’s not hard to understand why pre-teen and teen boys continue to see it as acceptable behaviour.
Perhaps we will have to wait for a death to occur one of these Easters before the penny will finally drop.