Families hope for new hearing into Stardust fire

Campaigners for a new inquiry in to the Stardust disaster said today they had the “strongest case possible” in their quest for justice.

Campaigners for a new inquiry in to the Stardust disaster said today they had the “strongest case possible” in their quest for justice.

Expert evidence will be outlined at an independent hearing on Monday which will recommend if the Government should reopen a public tribunal in to the killer fire.

The blaze in the north Dublin nightspot broke out the early hours of February 14 1981, claiming the lives of 48 young people and injuring hundreds more.

After almost three decades, campaigners will have their case heard by Paul Coffey SC, who will decide their fate.

Antoinette Keegan of the Stardust Victims Committee, who lost two sisters in the tragedy, said she hoped the latest move would finally bring justice for loved ones.

“We have the best case that we have ever had,” said Ms Keegan. “For the first time in 27 years the families will have fire, pathology and engineering experts in a courtroom.”

An inquiry established by the Government after the tragedy ruled that the cause of the inferno was probable arson.

The outcome has always been rejected by the grieving families who recently won a lengthy battle to have that case re-examined.

Their evidence has been set out in the document, 'Nothing but the Truth', which claims the cause of and rapid spread of the fire was overlooked at the original tribunal.

Family members will be present at the hearings, which are expected to last up to three weeks. They will be held in private in a court in the Distillery Building.

Ms Keegan said the anguish felt by bereaved families had been particularly acute because they felt many basic human rights issues were left unresolved.

“Only within the last few months, and again due to the campaigning efforts of the Stardust Victims Committee’s researcher and solicitor, were the remains of five unidentified victims finally identified using DNA technology which the State was finally persuaded to employ,” she said.

“The deep sense of anguish and injustice felt by the Stardust families and the wider community in north Dublin has fuelled the call for a new inquiry.”

Campaigners said the affects of the fire had ripped families apart in the area.

“We really hope the senior council listens to us and that the truth will be finally put on the record so we can move on and get our lives,” she said. “At the moment we have no closure.”

Mr Coffey was appointed by the Government to replace John Gallagher after families withdrew their co-operation from the hearing earlier this year when it emerged Mr Gallagher had represented gardaí during the original hearings in the Coroner’s Court.

He is empowered to recommend to the Government whether a public inquiry should be reopened into the fire disaster.

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