Advanced DNA tests could help Stardust probe - Taoiseach

Advances in science and DNA technology will be used if necessary to shed more light on the 1981 Stardust disaster, the Taoiseach told the Dáil today.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte claimed that recent RTE programmes on the tragedy unearthed new evidence that must be examined in the context of ordering a new inquiry.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern today confirmed that relatives of the 48 young victims would be contacting him later this week to arrange a face-to-face meeting.

Mr Ahern told the Dáil: “If issues like technology and DNA and other matters arise, we will be happy to look at them.

“We’ll get these issues examined and then let us come to a conclusion as to what is necessary to do.”

Last night’s Prime Time special produced two independent fire experts who cast doubt on the original garda inquiry and government-appointed tribunal.

The Taoiseach said that he couldn’t personally decide if the RTE programme threw up credible evidence which merited investigation.

“But it is valuable information to be looked at by those who can make an assessment on that,” he added.

He continued: “There are some unanswered questions particularly about DNA and modern science and how it would help the deceased. People believe that to exhume the bodies would help in that.

“All of those will be examined. Let’s get the advice and then we can make a judgement.”

Mr Rabbitte suggested that the Government should appoint a senior barrister to look at the evidence.

He said the RTE programmes, including a two-part docudrama, were an important contribution to public service broadcasting.

“We shouldn’t pass over this issue again like we have done so many times in the past,” he said.

“It is a speedy, cheap and efficient way to establish whether another investigation would be more effective.

“There was sufficient concern raised by two independent experts with no axe to grind to suggest (a doubt over the original inquiry.”

The Taoiseach said the Justice Department and Forensic Science Laboratory were currently examining evidence produced by the Stardust Committee.

RTE would also be handing over its data from its Prime Time programme to the Justice Department, he added.

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