Relatives vow to prove club electrics caused Stardust fire

Relatives of the Stardust victims are to reveal evidence they say will show the fire was caused by problems with the club’s electrics.

They are planning to hold a press conference tomorrow, the 33rd anniversary of the disaster which killed 48 young people and injured more than 200 others on St Valentine’s Night in 1981.

Geraldine Foy, an independent researcher who has worked with the Stardust Victims Committee for the past 12 years, said the evidence would, once and for all, refute the conclusions of the two official inquiries, the first of which blamed the fire on arson and the second which said the cause could not be established.

“We’re going to go through the evidence from July 1980 up to the night of the fire and show what the inquiries didn’t say and what the Government now needs to acknowledge,” she said.

The Victims Committee have long argued the fire started in the roof space of the club and that the original tribunal of inquiry in 1981 wrongly dismissed evidence from some witnesses outside the building who backed that conclusion.

They pointed out some years ago flaws in drawings created for the tribunal that showed the layout of the premises, creating a basement where there was none and distorting the tribunal’s understanding of which areas were used for storage.

They also discovered evidence that highly flammable fuels and other liquids were stored in the roof space but so far have not explained how the fire ignited.

Ms Foy said the committee would show witness and technical evidence that pointed to overloading of the electrical system.

“We’re also getting together some of the same materials that were in the roof space and we’ll be demonstrating how easy it was for them to ignite.”

The 1981 tribunal, chaired by Mr Justice Ronan Keane, controversially concluded the fire started in the seats and that arson was the probable cause.

Bereaved families were devastated by the finding and it was eventually overturned in a review carried out by government appointed barrister Paul Coffey in 2009. But he found there was insufficient evidence to establish the true cause.

Gardaí have begun a criminal investigation into alleged perjury by around a dozen witnesses at the 1981 tribunal following complaints by Ms Foy.

A new fund has been set up by the Victims Committee to try to meet some of the costs of the 12 years of research carried out on their behalf. Ms Foy said she personally had debts of €92,000 to repay.

lThe fund is being administered by Bridget McDermott, who lost three of her children in the fire. Donations can be made to the Bridget McDermott Stardust Fund c/o 50 Park Vale, Baldoyle, Co Dublin.

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