Cabinet row over new Stardust probe

A fresh stand-off has erupted between Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance over whether a fresh inquiry into the 1981 Stardust tragedy should be established.

Cabinet row over new Stardust probe

The Dáil is due next week to debate an opposition bill, but the Government has yet to decide a response to it.

This is the latest row to emerge among the Coalition following serious disagreements on opposition bills on abortion and neutrality.

While Fine Gael, particularly Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, want to oppose it, minister of state Finian McGrath is adamant the motion must be backed.

The Irish Examiner understands Mr McGrath, who has been a long-time supporter of the campaign for a new inquiry, has been seeking Government support for the motion being tabled by Independent TD Tommy Broughan.

However, there is considerable resistance to his demands from within Fine Gael, most noticeably the Department of Justice to the commencement of a new inquiry without any new evidence emerging.

“It is clear, some in Justice don’t want this to go anywhere and that is why they are set to oppose,” said one senior Independent Alliance figure. “But that puts Finian in a major bind as he has backed the Stardust families for years, personally, financially, and politically.”

Mr McGrath last night was refusing to bow to Fine Gael insisting he is “sticking with the Stardust families”. They are seeking a fresh State probe into how 48 people lost their lives at the disco on St Valentine’s night in 1981 at the Artane nightclub.

In keeping with their “all for one, one for all” strategy to local issues, the Independent Alliance are not happy to vote against the motion and pressure is mounting on Mrs Fitzgerald to accede to the demands for a new inquiry, which would cost an estimated €2m.

Officially, the Department of Justice said no firm decision has yet been taken as how the Government will respond to the motion.

“The Tánaiste has not formed a view on what approach should be taken to it,” a spokesman told the Irish Examiner. However, it is known that Mr McGrath and his colleagues have made both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste aware of his concerns in recent days.

Mr Broughan said the Government should take the lead of what happened in relation to the Hillsborough disaster, where fresh inquiries in recent years reversed original verdicts on how the 96 victims died.

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