Garda investigate crush outside Copper Face Jacks nightclub

The condition of a young woman injured during a crowd surge outside Dublin nightclub  Copper Face Jacks  has improved, changing from critical to stable. Six other people were injured when the queuing crowd pushed forward as they tried to gain entry to a promotional event.

From The Irish Times

Gardaí are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident, which happened as some 1,500 people queued to enter the  Harcourt Street  premises, which was operating a lower than usual age policy for the “Messy Monday” promotion.

Witnesses said the crowd pushed forward from  Camden Place, a partly pedestrianised road which meets Harcourt Street at the entrance to the nightclub, at about 11.45pm on Monday. A separate door into the club was opened and people let in to relieve the pressure.

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

Ms McAleavery said she and her friends were unable to find a way into the queue in a covered section of Camden Place and decided to try 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.

“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.”

She made it to the front of the tunnel at Harcourt Street, where a young man managed to get out over a railing and lift her and two of her friends to safety.

“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.”

Michael McMahon (19) a DCU student from Co  Cavan, said the main queue for Copper Face Jacks “snaked nearly all the way down Harcourt Street and there was another massive queue on the other side of the main entrance”.

“We only stayed in the Coppers queue for about 10 minutes because it was very rowdy and we weren’t going to get in,” he said.

In a statement, the nightclub said it was working closely with all relevant authorities to establish the cause of the 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.

Calls to the  Jackson Court Hotel, which is home to Copper Face Jacks, seeking further comment yesterday were not returned and nobody was available to speak when the premises were visited.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs  Frances Fitzgerald  said the incident raised “public health and safety issues regarding overcrowding outside venues”, which she said should be urgently addressed by owners, the Garda, fire services and local authorities.

Drink promotions
Ms Fitzgerald also said she had “concerns in respect of venues which attract large gatherings as a result of alcohol promotions”.

Dublin Fire Brigade  said it was alerted to the incident at 11.50pm and two ambulances and a fire tender were dispatched to the scene.

A Garda spokesman said seven people were injured, and four treated in hospital emergency departments. A woman (18) was brought to St James’s Hospital in a critical condition.

The hospital said the woman’s condition had been upgraded to stable and she was due to be moved from intensive care last night.

The Messy Mondays night, which ran from 10.30pm to 3am, was a new initiative open to people of 18 years and over.

Copper Face Jacks operates an over-20s age policy Sunday to Thursday and over-21s on Fridays and Saturdays, according to its website.

Alcohol Action Ireland, a charity focused on drink-related issues, said naming the night “Messy Monday”, changing the age policy and offering cut-price alcohol was a clear statement of intent indicative of who the nightclub was “trying to attract and the type of drinking behaviour those attending were being enticed to engage in”.