Another ’Stardust’ could happen because of the lack of ambulances and fire prevention officers in Dublin, the Dáil heard tonight.
A total of 48 people died and dozens were injured in a Valentine’s Day blaze in the Stardust nightclub, Coolock, 25 years ago this weekend.
Greens leader Trevor Sargent tonight said Dublin Fire Brigade currently had only 11 ambulances and seven fire prevention officers – the same number as 1985.
He claimed that Ireland has the highest rate of fire-related deaths in the EU, with 58 fatalities in 2005.
Addressing the Taoiseach, Mr Sargent said: “Do you not feel a cold shiver run up your spine to think that another Stardust could happen. With these figures that is very possible.”
The Dublin North TD also revealed that the UK spent more than twice as much per capita on fire services.
He said Dublin Fire Brigade responded to 26,000 call-outs in 1985, but this number had almost trebled to 68,500 in 2005 with the same resources.
The TD said that any disaster with more than 11 people involved would need taxis to take the injured to hospital.
“We have dozens more pubs, we have concert venues, stadiums bigger, we have more hotels and we are still in this city, he said.
“This situation has gone from bad to worse since the Stardust disaster and it seems lessons have not been learned.”
The Stardust victims still feel aggrieved that there were no counselling services at the time, Mr Sargent added.
He called on Mr Ahern to meet with the Stardust Committee.
Members of the Committee have asked the Taoiseach and ministers to stay away from a 24th anniversary Mass this weekend.
Mr Ahern told the Dail: “It is a difficult time for the families. The Government will continue to keep in touch with them.”
He said the Stardust disaster was one of the best co-ordinated efforts by the emergency services in this city.
“The fire service had been radically changed and improved in terms of the number of personnel and the equipment used,” he explained.
“We are dealing with tragedies and fires despite the fact that the Stardust changed attitudes of this country totally for ever more, in terms of regulations in terms of new buildings. It’s an entirely different position now to what it was then, but it doesn’t mean that people can stop. There are 3,400 fire service personnel now in the country compared to what was a small number then.”