Stardust families: 'Today is a victory for the 48 who perished'

A frail 82-year-old woman Bridget McDermott balanced her walking stick in her hand with the heavy wooden frame bearing the photographs of the three children she lost in the Stardust fire.

Stardust families: 'Today is a victory for the 48 who perished'

- with reporting by Aoife Moore

A frail 82-year-old woman balanced her walking stick in her hand with the heavy wooden frame bearing the photographs of the three children she lost in the Stardust fire.

Bridget McDermott wore a black sweatshirt under her jacket with the simple word Truth printed in white.

Bridget McDermott who lost her three children William, Marcella and George in the stardust fire with June McDermott. Picture: Collins
Bridget McDermott who lost her three children William, Marcella and George in the stardust fire with June McDermott. Picture: Collins

This is what she and the other families of the 48 victims of the St Valentines Day disco are praying for after the Attorney General ordered a new inquest into the deaths of their loved ones after fire engulfed a building in North Dublin.

"I couldn’t believe it when I heard about the inquest. I was not expecting it," she said as she showed the picture of the children she had lost, William (22), George (18) and 16 year-old Marcella who should have been babysitting that fateful night.

"I hope there will be justice now for all the children who died. I want it for my family,” Bridget McDermott said quietly.

She remembers helping her eldest son Willie get ready for the disco.

“The last thing I did for him was put on his tie," she said.

And she will never forget how she and her late husband Thomas drove around looking for their three missing children.

"We drove around looking for them. We couldn’t find them. We tried all the hospitals," she said.

At four or five in the morning we realised they were not coming home.

Bridget, with the other families, has been to the forefront of the campaign in the last two years asking people to send postcards asking the Attorney General to grant a new inquest.

In all 48,000 cards were sent in the campaign.

Antoinette Keegan whose late father set up the Stardust Victim’s Committee in 1985 which was carried on by her mother Christine said there had been many let downs in the last 38 years.

The Keegans lost two daughters Mary (19) and Martina (16) in the fire.

"My father fought until his death bed for justice for them. Today is a victory for the 48 who perished," she said breaking down in tears.

She added: "Those who died and their families deserve justice they deserve truth."

She said the Stardust families will never give up until they get truth and justice.

Maurice McHugh and his wife Phyllis visit the grave of their only daughter Caroline (17) every week.

“We thought we would get fobbed off again. We are relieved the inquest has been granted. There has been so much stress involved for everybody but we will continue the fight for justice,” Maurice said.

Eugene Kelly, whose brother Robert died in the fire, was emotional as he recounted his years of campaigning.

"We shouldn't even be talking to you today, we shouldn't even be here," he said. "It's a joy, when I got the call I didn't know what to say, I don't know where I am even now, I didn't sleep a wink last night.

"The truth will come out in the end, the truth has always been there."

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