Stardust victims' families 'not interested in compensation'

A survivor of a nightclub blaze tragedy today insisted families of the victims were not interested in compensation from the Government.

A survivor of a nightclub blaze tragedy today insisted families of the victims were not interested in compensation from the Government.

Relatives’ spokeswoman Antoinette Keegan distanced herself from reports that one family was seeking in excess of a one million euro settlement.

Gertrude Barrett, who lost her son Michael in the 1981 fire at the Stardust nightclub in Dublin in which 48 people died, told a Sunday newspaper she wanted the cash compensation for all the years of suffering and pain.

But Ms Keegan, who lost two sisters in the nightclub blaze, said the main concern of most relatives was that the truth comes out and justice is done.

“Out of all the families to date, only one is looking for compensation,” she said.

“The rest have a very strong drive and conviction to have the truth, once and for all, put on the public record as to what happened to their loved ones on that fateful night.

“Myself and other families are not looking for one million euro compensation. We want the truth on public record. That’s just one person making that statement,” she added.

Ms Keegan has written two letters over the past week to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern demanding a starting date for a new independent inquiry into the tragedy.

Earlier this month, the Government rubber-stamped a €100,000 advance to families’ solicitor Greg O’Neill to kick start the investigation headed up by John Gallagher SC.

Relatives of the victims never accepted the findings of the original inquiry chaired by former Chief Justice Ronan Keane, which concluded the blaze was probably started deliberately.

The new probe will involve scrutiny of existing evidence and the assessment of a dossier on the tragedy compiled by the families, ’Nothing but the Truth’, handed to the Government several months ago.

“I’ve said it umpteen times before: it’s not about money, it’s about 48 lives,” Ms Keegan said.

“Compensation never came into it. From February 14, 1981 all we ever wanted was the truth put on public record and that’s all we want today.”

Ms Keegan is also contacting families of other alleged miscarriages of justice in Ireland in an attempt to form a new lobby group called Victims of Crime Association.

Forty-eight people were killed and more than 200 injured in the Stardust fire, which engulfed the nightclub in Artane, north Dublin, in the early hours of February 14, 1981.

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