This week was the quietest Halloween on record for Ulster’s firefighters, according to a tally of incidents released yesterday.
During Thursday, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service received 166 calls, and sent crews out to attend 124 Halloween-related incidents across Northern Ireland.
This is the lowest attendance figure for Halloween since records began, and represents a decrease of seven per cent compared with last year.
However, there were still a handful of incidents, including an attack on firefighters and police in Kilkeel.
A window was broken on a fire engine, putting it out of action.
The PSNI reported disturbances in the Scrogg Road and Newry Road areas of the town, and said a crowd of masked youths had blocked the Scrogg Road with a burning barricade and attacked police with bricks and bottles shortly before 9pm.
Around an hour later, masked youths also blocked Newry Street with burning bins, and used fireworks and paint bombs to attack police.
UKIP councillor Henry Reilly said a bonfire in the town had included on it the names of local loyal bands, as well as an effigy of himself, and said it was “a cause of concern that the attacks were organised by dissident republicans.”
However, the fire service poured cold water on this suggestion, and assistant chief fire officer John Allen said his commander on the ground believed the attacks on their crew was just “anti-social behaviour”.
The police said calm was restored by 11pm, and that they were not aware of any dissident links to the disturbances.
Elsewhere, in a blaze which was unrelated to any of the festivities, dozens of firefighters had to put out a blaze at a plastics factory in the west of the Province.
Around 40 firefighters attended a fire in a building near the Milltown Road outside Benburb, Tyrone.
They came from Armagh, Dungannon, Portadown, Pomeroy and even as far away as Lisburn to tackle the flames, which had engulfed an industrial building used in plastic manufacturing. The cause was determined to be accidental.
The majority of the Halloween incidents this year were located in the Southern Command Area, and most of them involved rubbish and bonfires.
Asked about the higher call-outs in this region, ACFO Allen said “there’s a cultural aspect to behaviour in the south, in more rural areas” – in the sense that there tend to be more bonfires and outdoor celebrations.
Their records go back at least two decades, he added, and put the decrease down to the tighter control of fireworks, as well as better “education and social awareness”.
Although the figures for Halloween call-outs only ran up until midnight, he added that there were minimal incidents after that.