17/02/2011

Overcrowding Recalls Stardust Disaster

A Belfast nightspot has been slammed for repeated overcrowding.

In the same week as the family and friends of the 48 people killed in the horrific Stardust fire in Dublin have marked the 30th anniversary of that tragedy, South Belfast MP, Dr Alasdair McDonnell (pictured) has expressed his shock at reports of severe overcrowding in Rain Nightclub in Belfast city centre.

He said today that the nightclub had its entertainment licence suspended last night by Belfast City Council for repeated incidents of overcrowding.

On one occasion, an inspection by Building Control found the number of patrons exceeded the limit by more than 300, the South Belfast MP said.

"Young people need to be assured that they will not be put at risk when they go out for a night out with friends.

"Buildings regulations are in place for a reason and all proprietors have a duty of care to ensure the safety of their customers.

"No life is worth an extra admission charge in any establishment," the MP said.

"This should be a lesson to all proprietors that these regulations must be adhered to."

In 1981, 48 died and over 200 people were injured when a blaze broke out in the Dublin nightclub 'Stardust' in the early hours of Valentine's Day

This week, a mass took place at Saint Joseph's Church in Coolock, Dublin, before a wreath was laid at the Stardust Memorial Park.

A candle light vigil was also held in the grounds of the Stardust in Artane.
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The licence breaches at Belfast's Rain Club included three separate incidents of overcrowding on 7 November, 2010, 30 January, 2011, and 6 February, 2011.

However, the suspension of the entertainments licence does not prevent the nightclub from operating.

Rain can continue to serve drinks and will remain open, but cannot put on any form of entertainment, including DJs, until the suspension is lifted by Belfast City Council.

Councillor Christopher Stalford, Chairman of Licensing Committee, said: "We take our responsibilities as a licensing and enforcing authority very seriously, particularly as these functions are exercised to ensure public safety in places of entertainment.

"Belfast has a burgeoning night time economy and this is something the council encourages and is extremely supportive of; however, where there is the potential for the public's safety to be at risk and where there have been alleged breaches of any licence, the council will take robust action when necessary."

In Dublin, the Council has agreed to allow the construction of 178 apartments and houses and a hotel in Artane on the site of the horrific Stardust nightclub disaster.

Desite an appeal to An Bord Pleanála the development was approved despite the site being protected as a memorial to the victims.

See: Stardust Disaster Relatives Oppose Development

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