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Families face battle to stop Stardust club

THE FAMILIES of the Stardust victims have objected to a bid to locate a private members' club at the site of the tragedy.

Patrick Butterly & Sons Ltd has applied to Dublin City Council to redevelop the Artane House pub.

The company wants permission to set up a general gaming area, three private game rooms and a bar in place of the existing pub on the Butterly Business Park.

If approved, it will have offices and count rooms.

However, the Stardust Victims Committee is lodging an objection against the proposal with the city council.



Incompatible

The submission states the new club would be "totally incompatible" with the area and would be "seriously injurious" to the suburb.

"It's our view that the proposal ... would not integrate successfully with the existing community and would seriously injure the amenities of the area," claims the submission.

An earlier application for the change of use was ruled invalid by city planners.

The council stated the ruling was "due to the fact that following a site visit undertaken on Tuesday, 15th December 2009, it was observed that there were problems associated with the site notices to the main frontage of the site".

It added that "there were no site notices at the two locations indicated on the site location plan submitted with the application".

The council said the one notice that was put up was "not easily legible and in contravention of the requirements" of planning regulations.

However, within days of the decision, Patrick Butterly & Sons submitted the new application.

When the existing pub opened in April 2006, families of the Stardust victims expressed outrage.

Initially called the Silver Swan after the original name of the premises, it had opened its doors for the first time since the disaster 25 years previously. The name of the venue was subsequently changed to the Artane House.

The blaze at the Stardust disco on February 13, 1981, claimed 48 young lives.

Antoinette Keegan, who lost her sisters, Mary (19) and Martina (16) in the blaze, said it was "very emotional" and "very insensitive" that the pub had reopened, with the same name as when the blaze happened.

"I cannot see how anyone would have the heart to hold a licence for that pub," Ms Keegan said at the time.



Stampede

The tragedy occurred when hundreds of young people gathered for a Valentine's disco at the cluband two seats in a closed-off area caught fire.

It spread rapidly throughout the venue, engulfing ceiling tiles and walls. Thick black smoke filled the hall, causing panic and a stampede among the dancers.

Bars on the windows and exits blocked or locked with chain prevented any escape from the blaze.

The fire brigade and ambulance crews could do little to save those trapped.

comurphy@herald.ie