A row has broken out between the Department of Justice and relatives of the Stardust victims over research costs incurred in the families’ campaign for a fresh inquiry.
Independent researcher Geraldine Foy, who has worked with the families for more than 10 years, says she has spent €82,000 of her own money probing the tragedy and seeking expert opinion.
And while she undertook the task for the Stardust Relatives and Victims Committee voluntarily and is not seeking reimbursement of the full amount, she says she is due payment for reports linked to a Government review in 2008.
Ms Foy, a horticulturist by trade, recently demanded return of various reports held by the department, including her most recent submissions which add further weight to the families’ argument that a fresh inquiry is needed into the 1981 nightclub fire that killed 48 people and injured more than 200.
The department said: “In relation to the financial issues raised by the committee, this is a matter of ongoing correspondence.
“The department has requested that the decision to withdraw these reports be reconsidered so that the reports can be the subject of examination in the department.”
But Ms Foy said the department had the most recent reports for several months and was well aware of the contents.
She said she would resubmit them to a properly convened independent inquiry that had a fair system of costs.
“The department is using the money issue as an excuse to do nothing. They had the reports, they know what’s in them, there was nothing to stop them giving them to the attorney general to consider.
“They can have them back but not to leave them lying around gathering dust and they can have them back when they acknowledge the cost of the research involved.
“My earlier reports are still on public record because the department says they were part of the expert submissions to the Coffey review in 2008 yet every expert involved in that review got paid except me.”
The 2008 review by senior counsel Paul Coffey partly vindicated the families’ long campaign by finding that the original 1981 tribunal of inquiry was wrong to conclude the fire was a case of arson but it stopped short of saying a new inquiry should be held, saying there was not enough evidence to establish the cause.
The families have put together a comprehensive dossier of evidence pointing to overloaded electrics and negligence by the venue’s owners as the cause of the tragedy.
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