"Fireworks are a tradition that must change," says Health Minister

Hugo de Jonge at the EPP Summit in Brussels, May 2019
Hugo de Jonge at the EPP Summit in Brussels, May 2019European People's PartyWikimedia CommonsCC-BY

Lighting fireworks over New Year's is a tradition that needs to change, CDA Minister Hugo De Jonge of Public Health said on television program Jinek on RTL 4 on Monday. Earlier in the day it became clear that a majority in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, now supports a partial ban on consumers' fireworks. 

"It can of course not continue in this way," De Jonge, also the Deputy Prime Minister for the CDA, responded to a question on whether consumer fireworks should be banned. "I always enjoy fireworks a lot myself, but when I see police car after police car driving by, I think: this is a tradition that needs to change." But he stressed that the Netherlands should leave space for people who enjoy fireworks. 

A majority in the Tweede Kamer announced their support of a partial ban on fireworks. Government parties D66 and ChristenUnie and opposition parties SP, GroenLinks, PvdD, PvdA, 50Plus, DENK, and SGP want the government to ban firecrackers and rockets, like the Dutch Safety Board advised in 2017.

The other two coalition parties, VVD and CDA are still against such a ban, though mayors from these two parties are increasingly pushing for a ban. Acting mayor Johan Remkes (VVD) of The Hague argued for an "enforceable ban on firecrackers and rockets" for consumers on television program Buitenhof. And mayor Jan van Zanen (VVD) of Utrecht asked his party to cooperate in a ban on all consumer fireworks. "The negative effects of fireworks go beyond the limits of acceptance and tolerance", mayor Lucas Bolsuis (CDA) of Amersfoort said to NOS. According to the broadcaster, the majority of CDA and VVD mayors support a partial ban on fireworks. 

Every New Year's fireworks are at the heart of a large number of incidents in the Netherlands, and this year was no different. A father and his 4-year-old son were killed in a fire started by fireworks in an apartment building in Arnhem. The mother and 8-year-old daughter were critically injured. The Rotterdam Eye Hospital treated a 18 fireworks victims. A total of 1,300 fireworks injuries were treated by emergency rooms and GP posts. Firefighters responded to over 4,300 reported fires. And there were multiple attacks on first responders.