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never give up Stardust survivor vows to keep fighting for justice on 40th anniversary of horror fire

I’m involved because even though I survived it didn’t mean I gave up on everyone else who didn’t,” Jimmy Fitzpatrick says.

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Jimmy Fitzpatrick hold a candle for best friend Liam Dunne who died in the Stardust tragedy

Jimmy Fitzpatrick hold a candle for best friend Liam Dunne who died in the Stardust tragedy

Jimmy Fitzpatrick hold a candle for best friend Liam Dunne who died in the Stardust tragedy

Jimmy Fitzpatrick was 17 years of age and training as an apprentice butcher in Superquinn in the Northside shopping centre when he went to the Stardust disco on the night of February 13th 1981. 

He had gone there with a big group of friends, most of them fellow workers from the supermarket. But, as a big group of lads they were always prime targets for refusal by the bouncers.

However, on this fateful night, almost all of his young friends whose average age was just over 17, were admitted without any problems and by the end of that night many of them would be dead or badly injured.

When the fire broke out he was one of the first to get out safely but along the way he passed two girls who were clutching each other in fear.

He knew we couldn't remain outside while they were inside the door crying, so Jimmy went back inside and grabbed both girls and threw them towards the door.

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The Stardust

The Stardust

The Stardust

On the way back, he tripped and then, as crowds of people rushed towards the exits, he became trapped under the rush of bodies.

His hands were badly burned when he raised them up to protect his face and he still carries the scars to this day.

But, Jimmy never let that night dominate his life and he was able to move on and become a father to “two great kids” and now lives peacefully in his home in North Dublin.

On every anniversary he marks the occasion by going to the masses and the memorial park and this year will be no different.

“I got on with my life and made the most of it,” he says.

“ I cherish every day and live the best I can, but obviously this time of year rolls around again and you think, ‘what has changed in terms of what happened 40 years ago’.”

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48 people died and more than 200 were injured in the Stardust fire 40 years ago

48 people died and more than 200 were injured in the Stardust fire 40 years ago

48 people died and more than 200 were injured in the Stardust fire 40 years ago

Jimmy is now heavily involved in the ongoing Stardust campaign that is hoping this will be the year that they find some answers and perhaps some justice as the inquiries get underway in the RDS.

“I’m involved because even though I survived it didn’t mean I gave up on everyone else who didn’t,” he states.

“I have a right to say, no, these people deserve justice and I will fight for that for them, no matter what.

“We need for one person to stand up and say, ‘we got this wrong, and we’re sorry’.”

Jimmy is also sharply aware of the risks of another Stardust as ignorance of fire safety remains and the lessons of 40 years ago were never learned.

“I always point out to people when they are in a public pace to be aware of the fire exits and if they not comfortable to make a point of raising the issue with whomever is in in charge.”

Jimmy had played football until he was injured but he then got involved in training hundreds of footballers over the years.

“Hardly any of them would have heard of the Stardust,” he reveals.

“And I've been in schools talking to kids about fire safety and what to look out for and I don't mind doing that, it's important, but I shouldn't have to. The government should be doing that.”

Jimmy is hopeful the inquest hearings will go ahead later in the year but he insists that they have to be in person and not done virtually.

“There's no way this can go ahead in any other way,” he believes.

“There should be a full, public inquest because all the families and survivors need be seen and heard.

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Inside the charred remains of the Stardust

Inside the charred remains of the Stardust

Inside the charred remains of the Stardust

“Everybody should be able to hear and see what the families have gone through. Perhaps then, the message will finally get through.’

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