Dublin Fire Brigade claims damage caused by bonfires will not recover for three years

Dublin City Council spent more than €1m on its Hallowe'en clean-up over the past week, but fire crews have said damage caused by bonfires will take three years to repair.

Although he described it as one of the "quietest Hallowe'ens", Greg O'Dwyer, third officer of Dublin Fire Brigade, said large numbers of local pitches and green areas across Dublin and outside the capital were left ravaged and unusable.

"In 2007, we had 1,195 emergency calls. In 2008, there were 943 calls and last weekend we received 871 calls. This is a year-on-year drop and we were braced for a lot worse this year than what we actually experienced," he said.

A combination of bad weather and a lack of enthusiasm for last weekend's festivities accounted for the quiet weekend, O'Dwyer said.

The fire brigade hired three extra staff last Saturday night to cope with the expected volume of phone calls. The most serious incident encountered by O'Dwyer and his crew was in the early hours of Sunday morning when the fire crew were stoned by revellers while driving through Finglas.

"The windscreen was smashed and the vehicle was off the road for an hour. This was the most serious incident we came across." It is understood a gang of 40 youths attacked the vehicle.

According to a spokesman for Dublin City Council, the €1m that spent in the past week on cleaning the debris is broken down into four sections including the cost of emergency call-outs, the cost of removing stockpiled materials from bonfires, the cost of putting out fires and the cost of awareness campaigns run by the council.

According to the spokesman, the four sections were not broken down evenly as call-outs remained the most expensive aspect of the weekend.

The spokesman responded to criticism that €1m was too high a figure in a recession, saying: "It is a big amount of money, but we have no choice. We need to run awareness campaigns which will in turn drive the costs down, and the general clean-up of Dublin on the busiest night of the year for fire services amounts to this."