2009-02-05: ‘In the early hours of the 14th February 1981, a catastrophic fire swept through the Stardust Ballroom in Artane, Dublin, killing forty eight people and causing serious injury to one hundred and twenty eight others. The overwhelming majority of the victims were in the age group of eighteen to twenty five and came from the neighbouring areas of Artane, Kilmore and Greater Coolock. The scale and horror of the tragedy was such that it was, and remains, the greatest disaster to have occurred in the history of the State.’
Paragraph 1.2, Report of the Independent Examination of the Stardust Victims Committee’s Case for a Reopened Inquiry into the Stardust Fire Disaster.
In the middle of January 2009, relatives of Stardust Fire Victims were forced to hold a lengthy sit-in protest at Government Buildings, in Dublin … in order to gain access to this recent Report by Mr. Paul Coffey, Senior Counsel. See the Photograph of four forlorn relatives, by Mr. Dara Mac Dónaill, on the Front Page of The Irish Times (2009-01-15).
In Paragraph 5.15(1) of the Report (no reference number, no publication date) … Mr. Coffey recommended:
– that the Government should consider whether it can … place on the public record an acknowledgement of the (Stardust) Tribunal’s findings that there is no evidence that the fire was started deliberately and that its cause is unknown ;
Paragraph 5.15(2) continued:
– in the event that this cannot be done, there should be a further inquiry … ;
On Tuesday evening, 3rd February 2009, in the Dáil (Irish Parliament) … the Irish Government moved, with haste, to formally correct the public record in accordance with Mr. Coffey’s recommendation in Paragraph 5.15(1). See the Dáil Report on the Stardust Tragedy, by Ms. Marie O’Halloran, in The Irish Times (2009-02-04).
Should this be the end of the matter ? No.
Have the events surrounding this tragedy been well managed ? Yes.
In Separate Letters, dated 4th April 2006, sent by registered post to the Editors of The Irish Times (Dublin), The Irish Independent (Dublin) and The Irish Examiner (Cork), I wrote the following …
Re: Stardust Fire Re-Examination Now Due !
As a young architect in private practice, I saw the Dublin Fire ‘Establishment’ disappear from public view, without trace, after the 1981 Stardust Fire; it was almost impossible, for at least a year after, to have a meeting with a Fire Prevention Officer.
Would it not be reasonable to expect that, in 25 years, our understanding of fire behaviour in buildings, and of the practices and procedures associated with serious fire incidents, has improved ?
On 26th October 2005, the NIST Final Report on the 9-11 WTC 1 & 2 Tower Collapses was presented to Congress in the United States. Chapter 9 of that Report contains 30 important Recommendations which must radically alter professional fire engineering practice in the case of all building types, of all sizes … even in Dublin !
The time is now due for an Independent and Impartial Technical Re-Examination of the Stardust Fire Incident, and any relevant events which occurred during a period of time beginning 6 Months before 14th February 1981 and terminating approximately 18 Months after that day.
Such a Re-Examination must exclude any involvement by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DEHLG).
Signed: C. J. Walsh, Chief Technical Officer, FireOx International.
A Similar Management Exercise is taking place in relation to the series of Fatal Fire Incidents at the Oldcourt Local Authority Housing Estate in Bray, County Wicklow.