Explosives Acts

Offences in relation to explosives are still contained in the Explosives Acts 1875 and 1883 as substantially amended, particularly by the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act 1976 and the Criminal Justice Act 2006. The legislation regulates explosives and fireworks for lawful use as well as containing criminal offences in relation to handling and use of explosives.

The Explosives Legislation creates a variety of offences ranging from those who breach safety regulations to offences related to persons possessing explosives without proper authority or license.  Where breaches of the Act are committed wilfully or by negligence, a more serious grade of offence is committed.

The Explosives Act 1875 primarily deals with the lawful operations by those involved in manufacturing and binding. Explosive includes any gunpowder, nitroglycerine, dynamite, gun-cotton, blasting powders, fulminates of mercury and other metals, coloured fires, and every other substance, whether similar to those above or not, used or manufactured with a view to producing a practical effect by explosion or a pyrotechnic effect.

It includes fog-signals, fireworks, rockets, fuzes, percussion caps, detonators, cartridges, ammunition of all descriptions, and every adaptation or preparation of an explosive, as above defined.

The Government may by regulations declare any substance which appear to be especially dangerous to life or property, by reason of their explosive properties or any process in their manufacture to be deemed an explosion within the meaning of the legislation and the provisions of the legislation apply accordingly.

Causing Explosions

It is an offence punishable with imprisonment for life for any person in the State or any Irish citizen outside the State to unlawfully cause by an explosive substance an explosion likely to endanger life or to cause serious injury to property.  It is an offence irrespective of whether any injury or damage is actually caused.  It is punishable on conviction on indictment by imprisonment for any term up to life.

An explosive substance for the purpose of the 1883 Act is deemed to include any material for making explosive substances. It also includes any apparatus, machine, implement, or materials used, or intended to be used, or adapted for causing, or aiding in causing, any explosion in or with any explosive purposes; and any part of any such apparatus, machine, or implement.

Intent and Conspiracy

A person who in the State, being an Irish citizen or outside the State, unlawfully and maliciously does any act with intent to cause or conspires to cause or by an explosive substance, an explosion of a nature likely to endanger life, or cause serious injury to property, whether in the State or elsewhere, or makes or has in his possession or under his control an explosive substance with intent by means thereof to endanger life, or cause serious injury to property, whether in the State or elsewhere, shall, whether any explosion does or does not take place, and whether any injury is caused, be guilty of an offence. He shall, on conviction be liable to a fine or imprisonment for life or both, and the explosive substances shall be forfeited.


A person who makes or knowingly has in his possession or under his control any explosive substance, under circumstances so as to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that he is not making them or does not have them in his possession or under his control for a lawful object, shall, unless he can show that he made it or has in his possession for a lawful object, be guilty of an offence. This is subject on conviction on indictment, to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years or both. The explosive substance shall be forfeited.

The reference to knowingly having in possession an explosive substance implies that the person must know it is an explosive substance. It may be inferred from the circumstances in appropriate cases.


A person who is a citizen or who is within the State or being outside the State is a citizen who by the supply or solicitation of money, provision of premises or supply of material or in any way whatsoever procurers, cancels, aids, abets, or is accessory to the commission of a crime under the Explosive Acts, is guilty of a felony and should be tried and punished for that crime as if he had been guilty as a principal.


Where the Attorney General has reasonable grounds to believe that a crime under the legislation has been committed, he may order an inquiry and the District Court in the place where the crime has been suspected, may examine on oath, witnesses before him and take depositions for the purpose of such inquiry.

The witness examined may not refuse to answer on the basis that the answer may incriminate him about the statement shall not, except in the case of an indictment or other criminal proceeding for perjury be admissible against the person concerned in civil or criminal proceedings.

The provisions in relation to search and seizure under the 1875 Act, apply. A master or owner of a vessel who suspects goods of a dangerous nature, if found, he will be entitled to dispose of under the Merchant Shipping Act, are concealed onboard may search such goods. For the purpose of such search, he may break open any box, parcel, receptacle on board the vessel. He shall be entitled to deal with dangerous goods in such manner as provided under the 1875 Act.

Garda Powers

Garda Síochána who with reasonable cause suspects that a person possesses a firework in contravention of the legislation may request that the person gives his name and address and that the information be verified. If the member is not satisfied that the information is correct, he may request the person to accompany him to a Garda station for the purpose of verifying the information. He may without warrant search the person, if he considers it necessary for that purpose and detains him for the purpose of such search.

Garda may enter and search any vehicle, vessel or aircraft in which he suspects a firework may be found and seize or detain anything in the course of his search which he reasonably believes to be evidence of an offence under the section. This is without prejudice to any other power the member of An Garda Síochána may have in the circumstances to search, detain and arrest.

A member of An Garda Síochána who suspects with reasonable cause that a person has committed an offence under this provision may arrest the person without a warrant. A warrant may be issued by the District Court for the purpose of search of any place and persons found in it. A person who does not give his name and address when so requested, or gives a false and misleading name, is guilty of an offence.

A person who obstructs or attempts to obstruct a member of An Garda Síochána acting under the authority of a search warrant or if he does not comply with a requirement lawfully made, or gives a false or misleading name, is guilty of an offence. It is subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €2,500 or imprisonment up to six months or both.

Trial of Offences

Proceedings under the legislation require the consent of the Attorney General. Where the crime is committed outside the State, it may be prosecuted, tried, and punished within the State.

Certain of the offences under the legislation may be triable, tried summarily or on indictment. In which latter case, it is subject to a penalty of up to €10,000 and a term not exceeding five years imprisonment or both.

A court on conviction may forfeit anything, which relates to the offence and either order it to be destroyed or otherwise dealt with.


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