Mounting the new inquest into the fatalities in the Stardust fire will require special resources as it is going to be the biggest inquest ever in this country, the solicitor representing the families of the 48 victims has said.
Solicitor Darragh Mackin said there is an "absolute catalogue of fresh evidence". He said the basic ask of the families who have been campaigning for justice for their lost loved ones for the last 38 years is that the new inquest ordered by the Attorney General establishes the truth.
“If we are correct and if the expert evidence stands up, there are people who must be held accountable for what happened that night,’ he said.
Mr Mackin said the Stardust Fire is "Ireland’s greatest atrocity" and it is is not acceptable the events of that night go unanswered and unaddressed. The blaze, which left 48 young people dead and over 200 injured, happened at a St Valentine’s Day disco in North Dublin in the early hours of February 14, 1981.
A woman who made a 999 call about the fire and reports seeing smoke coming from the roof area is to be a key witness and has already supplied a statement of evidence.
Antoinette Keegan who lost two sisters in the fire and whose family have been to the forefront of the campaign for justice said the woman recalls the fire clearly.
“She saw the fire and didn’t hear sirens coming so she made a call to 999. Two calls came in at 1.43am and there was only one on public record. That is the report of a small fire on a seat,” Ms Keegan said.
Mr Mackin said if that witness is correct, that will call into question the origins of the fire and would point clearly to the blaze originating in the roof space.
“The reality is that witness has never given evidence, has never provided a witness statement to which she could be cross-examined on.
We have now provided that. We have made that witness available for any investigation and if that witness evidence is correct as we say it is, it will point clearly and unequivocally to the fire beginning and originating in the roof space.
"This is contrary to the very narrative which has been going on for three decades," he said.
The inquest will also hear new expert evidence on how the fire started in the building which had previously been a jam factory.
Mr Mackin said after the inquest establishes the truth and if there is sufficient evidence for a prosecution, the coroner has discretion to remit the matter to the DPP.
“The first step for these families is getting the truth. The inquest, we say, will do that and if people have to be held accountable, that would be the next step,” he added.
Mr Mackin said the families and legal team will seek to engage with the Coroner’s office in the coming weeks about the inquest.
‘It is pretty obvious special resources will be required here and maybe resources of an exceptional nature to ensure this inquest can proceed in an effective and timely fashion,’ he added.