Gardaí are investigating how the 18-year-old girl and six other young people were injured in a crowd surge outside the Copper Face Jacks nightclub in Dublin just before midnight on Monday.
Around 1,500 young people were waiting to get into the club, which had reduced its admissions age to 18 for the night, billed as ‘Messy Mondays’, and had heavily promoted cheap drink deals on Facebook.
One student, 19-year-old Hannah Kelly from Glasnevin, Dublin, who queued in an adjacent laneway outside for half-an-hour with college friends waiting to get inside, said the situation got “completely out of control” despite the efforts by bouncers to intervene.
“It wasn’t too bad at the end of the queue, but as you got up towards the top, it started getting bad. I was in towards the wall and the railings and the crowds just started to surge forward. I was shouting out ‘I can’t breathe’ and my arm was getting stretched and twisted. Some of the lads around me were shouting ‘she needs to get out’, but I didn’t get out.”
Ms Kelly, who was left with extensive bruising, said when the crush eased she saw security barriers dented and overturned and a girl lying unmoving on the ground.
Ms Fitzgerald said a full investigation into the incident was needed.
“There is a major issue of public safety if somebody ends up critically injured after they go for a night out. I would obviously want to ensure that all venue managers are examining the implications of what happened.”
She added: “We have to take action in this country in relation to alcohol, including promotion, because we have an extremely serious issue as far as our young people and children are concerned.”
Alcohol Action Ireland heavily criticised the venue’s marketing strategy.
“Promotions like this are aimed squarely at young people and encourage the type of harmful binge drinking that is such a threat to their health and wellbeing. The fact that this drinks promotion is called ‘Messy Mondays’ is a clear statement of intent and the fact that this establishment lowered its admission age to 18 for the first time and was promoting cut-price offers such as three ‘Jagerbombs’ for €10 is also indicative of who it was trying to attract and the type of drinking behaviour those attending were being enticed to engage in.”
Copper Face Jacks owner, Cathal Jackson, a former garda, said in a statement he was cooperating fully with investigators.
“We are working closely with all relevant authorities to establish the cause of this incident. The safety and wellbeing of our patrons is paramount at all times, and at present our major concern is for the people who were caught up in the incident and particularly those who were injured.”
A spokesman for St James’s Hospital, where the injured were treated, said the most seriously hurt girl was in a stable condition and was expected to be moved out of intensive care last night.