‘Everybody started pushing . . . everybody started panicking’

Witnesses describe crush outside Copper Face Jacks in which seven people were injured

Tue, Jan 28, 2014, 17:41

Witnesses to a crush outside Copper Face Jacks nightclub in Dublin last night have described how they panicked during a terrifying experience.

An 18-year-old woman is in a stable condition in hospital and six others were injured outside the popular nightclub where an estimated 1,500 people had gathered.

Clare McAleavery (19), a UCD student from Co Tipperary, said she went to the nightclub for the first time last night with friends having heard about the “Messy Monday” promotion.

The nightclub last night hosted an event called “Messy Monday’s” which a post on its Facebook page said would involve “€3 drink promotions & Dublin’s busiest venue”.

Ms McAleavery said she and three friends were unable to find a way into the queue in a tunnel on Camden Place so attempted to walk away.

“As we were walking out it got harder and harder to move out of the tunnel so eventually we were stuck,” she said.

“Three of us were pushed against the wall in the middle area. People were pushing…we were stuck beside the wall and there was a railing pushing into the side of us, so we couldn’t move at all.

“Obviously we began to panic and everybody started pushing forward again because everybody started panicking.

“I saw a few people falling down on the ground. We couldn’t really help them at all… We were there for about 10 minutes. I remember one push where people really just couldn’t breathe anymore. It was terrifying.”

Ms McAleavey said when she made it to the front of the tunnel at Harcourt Street a young man managed to get out over a railing and lift her and two of her friends out.

“When I was getting out I saw people stuck underneath railings and people were screaming as well but we couldn’t do anything about it.”

Gardai are investigating the incident which resulted in four people being taken to hospital and treated in accident and emergency departments.

The condition of one of the injured was upgraded from critical to stable in St James’ Hospital earlier today.

Harcourt Street was closed for a time following the incident but reopened this morning.

In a statement, Copper Face Jacks said it was working closely with all relevant authorities to establish the cause of this incident.

“The safety and well being 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,” it said.

The “Messy Monday” night, which ran from 10.30pm to 3am, was open to people aged 18 years and over, which is understood to be slightly younger than the nightclub’s normal college-going clientele.

Michael McMahon (19), a DCU student from Cavan, was among those in the queue for Copper Face Jacks last night.

“Me and my friends got there at around 11.30pm and usually the queue would be normal enough but last night it was crazy.

“The main queue snaked nearly all the way down Harcourt Street and there was another massive queue on the other side of the main entrance,” Mr McMahon said.

“We only stayed in the Coppers queue for about ten minutes because it was very rowdy and we weren’t going to get in.”

The nightclub is owned by former garda Cathal Jackson and Paula Jackson.

The latest available accounts show Copper Face Jacks recorded pre-tax profits of €6.81 million in 2012.

The firm behind the nightclub, Breanagh Catering, had cash reserves of €43 million at the end of 2012.

Fine Gael TD for Dublin South Central Catherine Byrne said pubs and nightclubs needed to act responsibly in the promotion of events for young people.

She said the advertising of a night such as “Messy Monday” was in breach of the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland’s code on marketing for alcohol “for encouraging as it does excessive drinking by young people”.

“Nightclubs must also take the health and safety of their patrons more seriously and invest in sufficient security outside their premises when they are hosting large events,” she said.

“The situation which developed on Harcourt Street last night was completely unacceptable, leaving a number of young people seriously injured… I have heard anecdotally that nightclubs sometimes admit too many people on busy nights, leading to huge crowds inside their premises.

“This presents an obvious risk to young people who should be entitled to enjoy their night out in safety.”