Stardust families set to meet leaders in campaign for inquiry

THE Stardust survivors’ long-running campaign for a proper inquiry into the tragedy will continue next week.

Six people who lost loved ones in the blaze will meet with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Justice Minister Michael McDowell at Government Buildings on Monday.

The long-awaited talks are a milestone for the families, who believe they have been ignored for a quarter of a century.

“This is very important for us,” said Antoinette Keegan, who lost two sisters in the tragedy. “We have waited 25 years for this.

“We are hoping for closure for the victims, but we will be approaching this with a certain amount of trepidation as we have been ignored for so long.”

Forty-eight young people perished when a fire engulfed the Stardust nightclub in Artane, north Dublin on St Valentine’s Day 1981.

Ms Keegan, who escaped from the building while her sisters Martina and Mary died in the horrific blaze, said the group will discuss a number of key issues with the party leaders.

Evidence compiled by an independent investigator claiming the fire started in the roof space of the building, and not in a ground floor alcove as suggested in a previous report, has already been submitted to Government.

Families will also highlight their concerns over the garda investigation at the time and the treatment of survivors and grieving families in the aftermath.

“The Government gave money to the man who owned the building,” continued Ms Keegan. “Yet survivors had no counselling and no support. The funerals of 48 people were paid for by the Lord Mayor’s charity fund, not from the state.

“That money should have been left for bereavement counselling.”

Ms Keegan is also planning to seek election in the Dublin North Central constituency.

“We will fight this Government every step of the way,” she added.

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