Relatives of those killed in the Stardust nightclub blaze hit out angrily today after a businessman was granted an interim licence to run a pub on the site of the tragedy.
Jason Gamble told Dublin District Court he was willing to erect a memorial to victims at the scene and change the name of the establishment from the Silver Swan to Skellys but residents described the moves as too little, too late.
Mr Gamble said he was only too aware of the tragedy and would meet survivors to discuss erecting a memorial in memory of those who lost their lives.
The court heard Mr Gamble was experienced in the bar trade and had no connection with Patrick Butterly and Sons Ltd, who residents claim were controversially planning to reopen the bar on February 14 – the 25th anniversary of the inferno in which 48 young people perished.
Survivors and relatives of those killed have protested at the pub every night since and it has not reopened.
Judge Mary Collins said she was more than aware of the sensitivity of the case but as there were no gardaí objections and the licensee was of good standing, the interim order had to be granted.
She said objections from residents could be heard when the case reopens in September when the interim licence expires and a full licence must be applied for.
Stardust survivor Linda Hosey described the decision as a crushing blow to the community.
“It’s soul-destroying for something like that to happen, but clearly the judge’s hands were tied. She was very sympathetic and did feel for us but her hands were tied by the law,” Ms Hosey said.
“As far as we’re concerned all that’s happened today is another crushing blow for us, another blow to our community and we’ve had too many blows.”
Mrs Hosey said they had gathered thousands of objections from all over the world to the reopening and would be back in force in September to voice their concerns.
Antoinette Keegan, who lost two sisters in the Stardust blaze, said the families felt shattered by the ruling.
“This man is just walking in there and no garda has even objected to him being allowed to take over a licence where 48 people were killed. They were killed, we’ve never got our justice and we want justice. And we don’t seem to have the law on our side at all,” she said.
“We’re being intimidated by the police coming down to a protest, telling us we’re doing the wrong thing, that this is not the right way to go. What is the right way to go if they won’t listen to us in there, in a court of law?”