Sunday 21 December 2014

Nightclubs face garda check after 'Copper Face Jacks' queue panic

Tom Brady, Conor Feehan, and Greg Harkin

Published 29/01/2014 | 02:30

GARDAI are to carry out a review of queuing arrangements outside Dublin nightclubs after a girl fell unconscious in a crushing incident.

Student teacher Niamh Cannon (18), from Letterkenny, Co Donegal, is recovering in hospital after being traumatised by her ordeal.

She was in a crowd of around 1,500 students attempting to gain access to the popular Copper Face Jacks club shortly before midnight on Monday night.

A large group of revellers, who had approached the club from Camden Place, converged with others arriving from both ends of Harcourt Street about 10 minutes before midnight. This resulted in congestion outside the club and a sudden surge in the laneway led to Ms Cannon and others falling to the ground.

SPEAK

Nearby students and club security staff managed to extricate her from the crowd and take her across the street where she was sedated by a paramedic.

Scene of the crush outside Copper Face Jacks on Monday night.
Niamh Cannon (18), who was injured in a crush outside Copper Face Jacks.

Ms Cannon was taken to St James's Hospital and her condition was initially described as critical.

She was later described as being in a satisfactory condition, with no apparent injuries, although she was left badly shaken by her experience.

Niamh's father told the Irish Independent that his daughter is recovering from her terrifying ordeal.

Another three people were treated at the scene but did not require hospitalisation.

Ms Cannon was able to speak with her family last night after being transferred from the intensive care unit at St James's Hospital, friends said.

"Everyone is well here and that's the main thing," said her father John, a well-known member of the community in Co Donegal where he is involved in athletics.

He is a member of the Tir Chonaill AC Club and a registrar with Ulster Athletics. Mr Cannon said he didn't wish to say anything further at this stage.

Niamh is a student teacher at the Marino Institute in Dublin and was a grade-A student at Loreto Secondary School in Letterkenny which she left last May before pursuing a career as a primary school teacher.

"She was crushed at the front of the queue and passed out," said a friend last night.

"Thankfully she has come around and was able to speak to her family. It could have been a lot worse."

Three other girls were also taken to hospital for treatment of soft tissue injuries and, in one case, a suspected broken ankle.

At least one was subsequently discharged.

Gardai said the crowd had been well behaved and there was no violence prior to the congestion but different groups converged on the entrance to the nightclub at the same time and this led to the surge.

An investigation into the incident is now being carried out by gardai, who will examine the events that led up to the girls being injured and look at the queuing arrangements outside Coppers and similar nightclubs.

The owner of Copper Face Jacks, former garda Cathal Jackson, said he witnessed the incident and added: "I never want to see anything like that again".

He said the event, which was known as "Messy Mondays" and was open to over 18s with cheaper drink on sale, would probably be dropped. The club operates a strict over 21s policy at weekends.

Mr Jackson defended the club's crowd control and safety record.

"The sheer volume of people arriving took us all by surprise. I have doormen working at the front of the building and have people monitoring the street.

"But we have never seen these numbers arrive so quickly. Usually, they come sporadically but this was different. I pride myself on the safety of our customers and our record over 18 years stands," he said.

Fine Gael Dublin South Central TD Catherine Byrne said the situation which had developed on Harcourt Street was completely unacceptable.

Irish Independent

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