Families renew calls for fresh Stardust inquiry

Families of the Stardust fire victims have renewed their call for a fresh inquiry as independent TDs prepare to bring a motion before the Dáil backing their campaign.

Families renew calls for fresh Stardust inquiry

Independent for Change TD Tommy Broughan’s motion seeks a commission of investigation into the fire which killed 48 and injured more than 200 during a St Valentine’s night disco 37 years ago. He has the backing of People Before Profit and Solidarity deputies.

Outside the Dáil yesterday, Mr Broughan addressed bereaved families who expressed disappointment with successive governments’ handling of the case.

Eugene Kelly, who lost his 17-year-old brother Robert, said nothing would erase the memory of receiving his brother’s remains as charred bones and nothing would ease the pain except an inquiry to formally establish the truth behind the tragedy.

“We have been here year after year because we have been let down year after year,” he said.

Antoinette Keegan, who was injured in the fire which killed her sisters, Mary and Martina, said there were several actions that needed to be taken in addition to a fresh inquiry.

She said inquests needed to be held and action taken against the owners of the nightclub to recover compensation awarded when the now discredited finding of arson was made as the cause of the fire.

That finding, in the original tribunal of inquiry, was overturned in 2008 after the families secured a review but that review concluded no cause of the tragedy could be established.

The families dispute this, pointing to overloaded electrics and the unsafe storage of combustible chemicals, exacerbated by locked and blocked exits, but a further review by retired judge Pat McCartan concluded last year there was no new evidence to warrant a fresh investigation.

Mr Broughan said that review was “doomed to failure” because of its restrictive terms of reference.

“People want closure like the tragic victims of Hillsborough and like the people who were shot in Derry in 1972 when we had phoney tribunals that didn’t come up with justice,” he said.

Disability Minister Finian McGrath, who almost caused a political crisis when he initially backed a motion calling for a commission of investigation but backed down when the McCartan review was offered, was accused of letting the families down.

He said he still supported the families but stopped short of backing the call for a new inquiry, saying he accepted the McCartan review. “My door is always open to the Stardust families if any new evidence emerges,” he said.

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