Overview of Offences

The Explosive Substances Act 1883 provides that if a person within the State or an Irish citizen outside the State unlawfully and maliciously causes by any explosives substance an explosion of a nature likely to endanger life, or cause serious injury to property, shall, whether injury to person or property is actually caused, be guilty of an offence and, on conviction be liable to punishment for life.

It is an offence punishable with imprisonment for any term up to life to do any act with intent to cause or conspire to cause an explosion likely to injure life or cause damage to property or have explosives in one’s control or possession with such intent.

It is an offence for a person to knowingly possess or have under his control an explosive substance in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable suspicion that it is not made or possessed for a lawful objective.  Unless the contrary is proved, an offence punishable for a term of up to 14 years imprisonment is committed.

Any person who either in Ireland or abroad by supply or solicitation for money, provision of premises or supply of material, procures aides of abets or its accessory to the commission of any of the above offences is, guilty of an offence punishable in the same way as the person committing the principal offence. There are comprehensive powers of search, arrest, warrant seizure and forfeiture.

The ignition of a firework in a public place or its direction towards any person is an offence.  The Gardai have comprehensive powers to search and arrest without a warrant where appropriate.  Unlawful fireworks may be seized.

Regulation of Explosives

Regulations may be made prohibiting absolutely or except under a licence, subject to conditions and restrictions that may be applied to manufacture, keeping, importation, conveyance or sale of any explosives which is so dangerous in character that it is expedient for public safety to make such regulations. The regulations must not prohibit absolutely anything which may be lawfully done in pursuance of a certificate under the legislation.

Explosive manufactured or kept in contravention of regulations are deemed to be kept in an unauthorised place. Explosives conveyed in contravention of the regulations are deemed to be conveyed in contravention of a bylaw made under the Act in respect of conveyances of explosive.

Explosives which are imported or sold in contravention of regulations may be forfeited. The owner or master of any ship in which they are imported is liable to a penalty based on the weight of the explosives. The person to whom it is delivered is subject to a penalty. Revenue Commissioners and customs officers have powers in respect of explosives, as they have in respect of prohibited articles, generally.

Regulations have been made under the legislation in relation to Keeping of Fireworks Order 1984, Import of Explosives Order 1994, Sale of Explosives Order 1997.


The manufacture, keeping, selling, carrying, importing, or possession of explosives is very tightly regulated by law.  The legislation covers a wide variety of explosive material and extends to anything which has an explosive or pyrotechnic effect. Specifically dangerous explosives are prohibited entirely.

Gun powder may only be manufactured or kept at lawful and licensed premises.  There is a tight system of licensing which is administered by local authorities.  There are strict regulations in relation to the control and regulation of the premises, any breach of which constitutes an offence.

Any retail outlet which carries gun powder is also subject to licensing and must comply with detailed conditions.  There are regulations regarding how and where  gun powder is kept, the quantities that are kept, security, precautions, et cetera.  There are regulations on the transport and conveyance of gun powder.

Licences may be obtained by certain businesses possessing explosives for legitimate purposes such as factories, mines, et cetera who have an actual requirement in that regard.

The Gardaí and inspectors have powers to search for unlicensed explosives.  They have powers of seizure, detention and forfeiture.  They have powers of arrest without a warrant.


A firework is any device containing pyrotechnic material which, when functioning, burns or explodes to produce a visual or aural effect or movement or a gas, either separately or in combination, as a direct form of entertainment. It does not include low hazard fireworks except bangers or a firework imported under a licence.

A low hazard firework is a firework which presents low hazard and is designed for indoor use. Pyrotechnical material means a substance or mixture of substances designed, when ignited, to produce an aural or visual effect or a gas either separately or in any combination.

It is an offence to ignite a firework in a public place or throw an ignited firework on a person or property. It is an offence to possess firework for the purpose of sale or supply it without an import licence.

A person who in any place, ignites firework or causes it to ignited or throws through acts or propels an ignited firework at or towards a person or property is guilty of an offence.

A person who possesses a firework with intent to sell or supply it to another and he does not hold the license to import, is guilty of an offence. The onus of proving the licence is on the accused.


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