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New bid to open club at Stardust blaze site

MORE heartache has been heaped on the Stardust families over a proposal for the site of the fire tragedy.

Patrick Butterly & Sons Ltd wants to redevelop the Artane House pub into a private members' club.

While the plans were rejected by Dublin City Council, the company has now appealed that decision to An Bord Pleanala.

The company wants to set up a general gaming area, three private game rooms and a bar in place of the existing pub in the Butterly Business Park in Dublin 5. If approved, it will have offices and count rooms.

A string of politicians joined the families of the Stardust victims by lodging an objection against the proposal.

TDs Terence Flanagan (FG) and Finian McGrath (Ind), as well as councillors Tom Brabazon (FF), Declan Flanagan (FG) and Sean Kenny (Lab), all opposed the application.

Mr McGrath cited a "lack of respect to the families of the Stardust fire victims" among his reasons for objecting.

In his letter, Cllr Brabazon said it was "most insensitive" to try to "position a private members' club at this location".

"It is most inappropriate that the site of this tragedy would be used and defiled in such a way," he added.

Patrick Butterly & Sons did not comment at the time.

Individual families also voiced their opposition.

The McDermott, Kennedy, Keegan and Bissett families, who all lost loved ones in the blaze, sent in letters of objection to the council.

The Stardust Victims Committee stated the new club would be "totally incompatible" with the area.

It added that the development would be "seriously injurious" to the suburb.

"It's our view that the proposal.. would not integrate successfully with the existing community and would seriously injure the amenities of the area," the letter adds.

When the existing pub opened in April 2006, families of the Stardust victims expressed outrage.

Initially called the Silver Swan after the original name of the premises, it had opened its doors for the first time since the disaster 25 years previously.

The name of the venue was subsequently changed to the Artane House.

The blaze at the Stardust disco on February 13, 1981 claimed 48 young lives when hundreds of young people gathered for a Valentine's disco at the club.

Antoinette Keegan, who lost her sisters Mary (19) and Martina (16) in the 1981 blaze, said it was "very insensitive" that the pub had reopened with the same name as when the blaze happened. "I cannot see how anyone would have the heart to hold a licence for that pub," Ms Keegan said.