Furious Stardust families demand report

FAMILIES of victims of the Stardust nightclub fire have reacted with fury after discovering the Government has been sitting on the latest report on the disaster for weeks without being informing.

They are demanding that the report, which they hope will conclude there are sufficient grounds to warrant the holding of a fresh inquiry into the blaze, be published and acted upon without further delay.

Barrister Paul Coffey was appointed by the Government last summer to examine the families’ case for a new public inquiry into the inferno which claimed the lives of 48 young people and injured over 200 at a Valentine’s night disco in 1981.

The Stardust Victims Committee discovered through media contacts in the last few days that Mr Coffey submitted his report and recommendations to the Government a fortnight before Christmas but the families were left in the dark about the development.

Committee spokeswoman, Antoinette Keegan, who lost her sisters Mary and Martina in the fire and herself suffered serious injuries, said she was disgusted at the way the matter had been handled. “After all that we have gone through to get to this stage, we are being treated in the most disgraceful way.”

She said the unofficial indications they had been given over the weekend were that the report was not a priority given the myriad economic crises preoccupying the Government and that it would be months before the Attorney General was able to give ministers any legal advice as to what to do about its findings.

“We were led to believe that this would be finalised within six weeks of Paul Coffey’s examination, that it would not be put in a bottom drawer and left to gather dust. We appeal to the Government to make it a priority. Another anniversary is looming on us — it’s 28 years now — and every time it passes and there’s still no justice for our loved ones, it just gets more painful.”

The original tribunal of inquiry in 1981 chaired by Mr Justice Ronan Keane concluded the cause of the fire was probably arson with the most likely explanation being that someone set fire to the seating in the main ballroom, although Mr Justice Keane also conceded there was no evidence that this was the case.

The families immediately rejected those findings and have campaigned repeatedly for a fresh inquiry, intensifying their campaign in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of the tragedy in 2006.

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