Stardust relatives stage sit-in for report

FOUR women who lost loved ones in the Stardust disaster last night vowed to step up their campaign for justice after staging a sit-in at Government Buildings.

Hundreds were injured and 48 young people killed in the Valentine’s blaze that broke out in the Stardust nightclub in Artane, north Dublin, in 1981.

As the 28th anniversary of the tragedy approaches, the Stardust Victims Committee demand answers for those who perished.

They want a report, which will state whether a fresh inquiry into the killer fire should be opened, to be made public.

A Government spokesman confirmed that the cabinet considered the report on December 16 and referred it to the Attorney General, who is checking the legality of its contents. It is not known when the document will be returned to cabinet and made public.

Flanked by two gardaí, four family members protested by refusing to leave a security hut at the gates of Government Buildings until they had a date when the document would be handed over.

Antoinette Keegan, who lost her sisters Martina and Mary in the blaze, and their mother Christine, vowed to take their case to the European Courts if they do not get the information contained in the report.

They were joined by Brid McDermott, whose children William, George and Marcella were killed in the fire, and Gertrude Barrett, the mother of victim Michael.

“We don’t want to get the report today but we want to know when we will be given it,” said Ms Keegan.

“We are very frustrated, very angry and very annoyed.

“This is supposed to be open and even-handedly done. We are being dignified and peaceful and will be back tomorrow.”

An inquiry after the blaze recorded that the cause was probably arson.

But angry relatives, who demand a new probe, claim they have since uncovered new expert evidence to counteract the finding.

Last year an examination into whether a new public inquiry should be launched was undertaken by barrister Paul Coffey.

Although the report was handed to the Government a month ago, the committee maintain they have been kept in the dark.

Greg O’Neill, solicitor for the families, said: “I understand there are recommendations on which legal issues rely on, but these are matters of public concern.”

“I don’t see what the difficulty is in publishing the report and recommendations while legal advice is being taken.

“Then let the government make its decision on what can be done to affect these recommendations.”

Dublin North East Labour Deputy Tommy Broughan called on Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Justice Minister Dermot Ahern to reveal the findings.

“The Stardust victims and families have endured 28 years of broken promises and disappointments,” he said.

“The Government should urgently meet the victims and families’ committee to discuss the contents of Mr Coffey’s critical report and publish it as a matter of priority.”

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