Stardust-type tragedy ‘could happen again unless fire services improve’

A TRAGEDY of the scale of the Stardust disaster could happen again because of under-resourcing of emergency services in Dublin, the Green Party claimed yesterday.

Party leader Trevor Sargent told the Dáil that the Fire Service had a pool of 11 ambulances to cover the entire city, exactly the same number it had at the time of the fire tragedy in 1981.

Mr Sargent said the resources available to cope with such tragedies had not kept pace with an expanding city that has seen huge population growth and increases in the numbers of pubs, concert venues, hotels and stadia.

He said that the number of fire prevention officers had also remained static at seven for Dublin, despite the number of emergency calls increasing from 26,000 in 1985 to 68,500 in 2005.

“Does a cold shiver run up the Taoiseach’s spine with the thought that another Stardust could happen?” he asked.

“The way the figures work that is very possible.”

Mr Sargent said many questions remained unanswered for Stardust survivors and relatives despite the 122-day inquiry that was held. He asked the Taoiseach to meet the committee representing victims of the tragedy to hear their views.

Mr Ahern said emergency services had improved markedly since 1981. He also said the response by emergency services to the tragedy that night was the best possible coordinated effort.

He said that Department of Justice officials met recently with representatives of the Stardust committee and a report prepared by it had been passed on to the Garda Commissioner and the State Laboratory.

He said the commissioner had concluded that no new evidence was forthcoming that would warrant a fresh investigation.

The 25th anniversary of the disaster falls on February 14.

A total of 48 young people died and hundreds were injured in the inferno at the dance hall in Artane.

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