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New landmark documentary series Stardust on RT One and RT Player

13/05/2024

New compelling eye-witness testimony of Stardust fire in RT documentary

Series filmed over three years includes interview with Charlie Bird filmed in 2021

New eye-witness testimony from the night of the Stardust fire from bar staff, emergency responders and survivors comprehensively recount the events of the night of the disaster in the first episode of a new landmark documentary series on RT One and RT Player from Sunday at 9.30pm.

Stardust, a three-part documentary series, tells the full and unvarnished story of the Stardust nightclub fire and the 43-year search for justice undertaken by the families of those killed in the fire. The series will be broadcast across three consecutive nights, Sunday May 12th at 9.30pm and continues tomorrow night and Tuesday at 9.35pm on RT One and RT Player.

Three years in the making by RT , this definitive account of the Stardust nightclub tragedy chronicles the night of the fire and the fall-out from it, the initial investigation into the fire, the relatives' fight for justice up to the point of a second inquest and concludes with the historic decision of unlawful killing' delivered into the Coroner's Court on April 18th.

Tonight's episode features a sit-down interview with the late Charlie Bird about the nightclub fire that he attended as an RT News journalist in 1981. After campaigning for decades on behalf of the Stardust families, Charlie spoke to RT 's documentary crew in 2021 to recall the night.

Charlie Bird said: I remember getting the phone call that night - my boss he told me to get my backside out to Artane - there had been a fire in a disco called the Stardust, I hadn't a clue where it was. I remember jumping in my car and going over Butt Bridge and I just followed the ambulances from there out to the Stardust So many people there - ambulances, fire brigades, reporters, onlookers from all over the place - it was absolutely chaotic.

He continued: It was a dream - the whole thing was a dream or a nightmare - that was unfolding as dawn came you began to see the shell of the Stardust - that charred and the smell the smoke was still rising from it.

In a way we didn't know then what the scale of the tragedy was, how many people had died and the numbers who were injured. Charlie Haughey arrives and the most bizarre thing of all - we walked through the Stardust! We were allowed in talk about forensics, it's the most bizarre thing! We were actually allowed to trudge through it!

In a rare interview, survivor of the Stardust fire Valerie Deasy describes first seeing the blaze in the nightclub: I looked around for my sister to see where she was and I went up to her and said c'mon we better go' and she said sure it's only a little fire.' We could see it It was in a corner on a seatthat's what it looked like to me anyway and we walked over and we were standing quite close to the exits - but they were chained.

Valerie talks about how the fire grew quickly and in the chaos, she ended up on the floor. She says: Everyone was standing on me, trampling on me but then I thought I had died - because everything went deathly silent - there wasn't a sound and it was pitch black.

She adds: You could see the light coming from a door being opened and slowly but surely there was people just pulling people out and eventually somebody pulled me out. There was guy who worked in the community centre, the youth leaders, and I went over to him and said Mick will you bring me home'. I actually thought I was going to sneak back into the house and my mother wouldn't realise that I'd been out - so he said to me Who are you?' because he didn't recognise me. And I said it's Valerie' and he said to me - what's that?' And all the skin off my face was here it was in my hand, and I just held it in my hand while we got in the car and he drove me into Jervis Street.

Phyllis Campbell was 16years old on the night of fire and was working as bar staff in another part of the Stardust venue. In Sunday night's documentary, Phyllis recounts for the first time in a television interview the first signs of fire and the panic in the venue as they discovered the doors wouldn't open.

Phyllis Campbell tells the Stardust documentary: We were lounge girls and we would serve the drink to the tables, clear the glasses, we would wear a white blouse, black skirt, we were supposed to - that was our uniform.

Everybody was excited to be going to the Stardust on Valentine's night with a disco competition because most of the people that were in the disco competition - we knew

We were in the Lantern Rooms tidying around, that function was coming to an end - one of the lounge staff came in to say there was a fire in the Stardust and we went into see.

She continues: The flames was going across the ceiling then there was a gush of fire and it was like the material from the ceiling was falling on fire

The lights went out People screaming, glasses smashing, the roars of the fire - so we held on to each other and we went through the bar - I slipped and fell.

Phyllis says: When we got outside it was as bad outside - the screams coming from inside People that did go to exit doors had no chance - there was no way that they would have got out those doors because they were chained and because the toilet windows had bars on - there was no way out there. Jesus help us get us out' and then silence. Seeing people that you had spoke to a couple of minutes beforehand coming out black, covered in smoke and there was others trying to get back in cos their families were in there.

I remember my aunt saying is it really really bad - and she saying half of Coolock is gone.

RT 's Stardust documentary project is a comprehensive telling of the s
LINK: https://about.rte.ie/2024/05/13/new-landmark-documentary-series-stardu...
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