Monday, February 13, 2006

Stardust Anniversary and RTE drama

I watched the RTE drama lastnight and second part is tonight.

Of course I recall the event well from 1981. I was driving home across the city from my fiancee's house in early hours of the morning and wondered why there were many more ambulances than usual flying around.

Watching the drama lastnight I was almost brought to tears. I can only imagine how it affects the families involved to rewatch. The difference for me now 25 years later is that I've three daughters at ages where they go into clubs around the city every week. We worry about them being safe, meeting dangerous people, having trouble coming home in taxis etc. You don't relax fully until they are home. The last thing we would expect is for them to be trapped and burned in the club they attend. In 1981 there weren't even mobile phones and the agony, panic, confusion and waiting by parents for news must have seemed endless that night.

I recall the major enforcements in public places afterwards regarding flammable materials and usable exits. It became standard practice for a host to point out emergency exits. So many of us became extra conscious of learning how to get quickly out of a building. I'm sure lives were saved by the lessons from Stardust. I just hope we never become complacent. For the poor families who either couldn't watch or didn't want this RTE drama to be aired I would just say that if it helps us redouble our efforts never to let it's like happen again and helps save some lives in the future - then surely it must have some value. The families will never forget what happened, we must make sure nobody else does either.


Anonymous said...

Fair play to you talking about the Stardust. No other blogs seem to say anything maybe they are all too young to remember. My aunt died in it before I was born and it messed everyone up a lot and its still hard for my parents to think about it. If it happened in a posh part of dublin i bet we would get answers.

John of Dublin said...

Gosh, I never expected to hear from someone so close to the tragedy. I hope all the revised attention in the media somehow helps to get some useful results for your family and everyone affected. Going forward it's so important that the authorities enforce regulations which save lives and that everyone - especially building managers - are more vigilent.

Anonymous said...

Letter to Miniister for Justice

Dear Sir,

Thelma Frazer b.1960 d.14th Feb. 1981 age 20.

This is a brief letter on how my late sister was wronged by the state.

On that frosty Feb morning I lost my dear sister Thelma, in that fire in Artane. She had trained with the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps, and was a secretary with the Irish Productivity Center . She had the whole of her life ahead of her.

I sometimes wonder what her last moments were like. Like a few months before when she went to the aid of a young man who was severely beaten outside the Stardust, on the night of the fire did she go to the aid of others, or even her boyfriend Michael? These questions will never be answered.

But now with all the hard work of Geraldine Foy, Gertrude & Carol Barrett, Greg O'Neill, and with the Stardust Legal Challange, some questions may be about to be answered.

The tribuneral of inquiry found that the fire was most likely arson, my dear late father could never come to terms with that pronouncement.

" Does that mean that anyone who was at that disco (who lost their lives and were severly injured) was a suspect to arson?" he once said to me. Sure there were fire exits locked and blocked, there was no excape from the toilets, but how did the fire start?

The new evidence now suggests that now at long last my sister name and the names of the 47 dead and injured, may be finaly cleared, and the real justice may be done.

So I ask you the minister for Justice and Law Reform to please take onboard this new information, and please find justice for my sister and the 47 other deceased and injured.

M Frazer

Anonymous said...

Thanks John
for putting this blogg out there..

John of Dublin said...

No problem at all. What a horror to lose your sister this way, and she sounded a very kind person from your letter.

You know I hadn't thought too deeply of how the arson innuendo was so hurtful until I read your letter. It did I suppose raise a hurtful thought that any one of the poor victims was even a possible suspect of arson. As if the families hadn't enough grief to deal with. What was worse was there wasn't enough strong evidence to support this from the tribunal - they could only vaguely say "probable arson". And of course that was enough for the owner to get rapid and huge compensation by law.

The RTE documentary was most interesting this week in offering an alternative explanation on starting of fire. I do hope the families get some proper explanations and long overdue closure soon. It's so ugly to have to fight so long for justice while still dealing with grief. But I would also say that in some situations, no matter how much effort is put in, it can happpen that no clear answers come about due to lack of evidence. History is riddled with such cases. If the latest efforts still do not better explain what happened then surely it will be time to move on and learn as many lessons as we can from it for the future. It's blunt and sad, but true. Either way the families must find their own form of peace.

Anonymous said...

i think it is disgraceful that that man butterly is allowed open yet another pub were those young peple tragically lost their lives, why he was allowed and wanted to ill never know, if not been compensated for starting a fire wasnt enough...

John of Dublin said...

If I was the businessman I wouldn't have the heart or stomach to open a pub at the location, irrespective of blame or innocence on his part. But I confess I don't know enough facts on the owner and circumstances he has been facing.

ruth, dublin said...

No matter what the owner is going through he should have repect for the victims families