Inquiry into the death of Cork teenager crushed at concert

AN inquiry will be held into the death of a Cork teenager crushed in a crowd during a rock concert in Dublin on Saturday night…

AN inquiry will be held into the death of a Cork teenager crushed in a crowd during a rock concert in Dublin on Saturday night. Ms Bernadette O'Brien (17), from Shanagarry, near Midleton, died in the Mater Hospital yesterday afternoon when a life support machine was turned off. She had suffered severe internal injuries during the crush.

Ms O'Brien was among the estimated 8,500 strong crowd at the Point Theatre in Dublin's docklands for a sell out concert by an American rock band, The Smashing Pumpkins.

Concert promoters MCD and the Point Exhibition Company, in a joint statement last night, extended their sympathy to the O'Brien family and friends and promised a full inquiry into the tragedy. "The safety of the concert going public has been, and always will be, the primary concern of MCD and the Point Exhibition Company," the statement said.

The tragedy happened at about 10 p.m. when Ms O'Brien was one of a number of people injured in a crush near the front of the stage as frenzied fans surged forward and began to jump, dive and "crowd surf" to the band's loud, hard edged music.


After being, pulled over the safety barrier by security staff, she was attended to by medical staff and then taken to the Mater Hospital, where her condition was critical. She died early yesterday afternoon. Five other people were brought to the Mater for treatment but were released shortly afterwards.

The trouble began as soon as the massively popular group from Chicago took the stage and the wildly excited crowd near the front began to get out of control.

The band stopped the show twice and appealed for calm while security staff tried to lift young people to safety who had been, overcome by the crush. "Please, you gotta listen," singer Billy Corgan told the crowd. "There "are people getting hurt down here."

Bass player D'Arcy Wretsky angrily admonished the crowd, telling them: "There's a girl dying backstage. Do you care?" As the situation worsened, the group abandoned the concert.

A spokesman for The Smashing Pumpkins' record company, Virgin, said the band was completely and absolutely "devastated" and had cancelled its scheduled concert in Belfast immediately after the abandoned Dublin show. The band flew to Britain yesterday morning before learning of Ms O'Brien's death.

The statement by MCD and Point Exhibition Company said Saturday night's concert was organised in accordance with the Code of Practice for Pop Concerts, recently issued by the Department of Education.

Some 110 security staff were on duty at the venue, along with two doctors and some medical personnel. The 8,500 attendance was within the legal capacity of the building, the organisers said, and previous concerts by Nirvana, Bon Jovi and Oasis had attracted similar capacity crowds.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist