Stardust relatives want new Government to honour commitments

The relatives of victims of the Stardust fire disaster have called on any new government to honour their election commitments.
Stardust relatives want new Government to honour commitments
Eugene Kelly, holds a photo of his 17-year-old brother Robert who died in the 1981 Stardust fire. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Eugene Kelly, holds a photo of his 17-year-old brother Robert who died in the 1981 Stardust fire. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The relatives of victims of the Stardust fire disaster have called on any new government to honour their election commitments.

With the potential of a new government being formed next week, families and survivors of the fire say any coalition should expedite the fresh inquest that was granted last year.

48 young people died in the popular nightclub in Artane, Dublin, after it was destroyed in a blaze on St Valentine’s Day in 1981.

A fresh inquest was granted after the Attorney General Seamus Fox said that he felt the original showed an "insufficiency of inquiry as to how the deaths occurred, namely, a failure to sufficiently consider those of the surrounding circumstances that concern the cause or causes of the fire".

The inquest will likely be the largest in the history of the State and the families say it is "vital that it is human rights compliant and properly resourced".

During the general election, leaders of the political parties signed a pledge committing to funding the inquest and to ensuring that there is no delay in its establishment.

Antoinette Keegan, who survived the fire but lost her two sisters Mary, 19, and Martina, 16, says the families need commitments from the new government.

“On June 25 it was nine months since the Attorney General granted us a fresh inquest, yet we are still in the dark as to where the inquest will be held," she said.

"Neither the families nor our legal team, Phoenix Law have been contacted to find out what resources are needed.

"The families have the right to be consulted on the location and supports needed. We have waited long enough for justice, we need to know that we have the support of the incoming government and especially the new Taoiseach.

We are calling on Micheál Martin to confirm that he will stand over his pledge and ensure that the inquest is established without delay and is fully resourced. This is Ireland’s Hillsborough, it is in the public interest that we get to the truth of what happened that night.

Investigations into the fire showed that a number of escape routes from the dance hall were blocked as emergency doors were locked by chains. Concerns have also been raised about the investigation of the scene, which allowed politicians and media to walk through the building just hours later.

Despite findings of safety breaches, there were no prosecutions over the incident.

An initial finding of probable arson meant that the relatives of the dead and injured were unable to sue the club owners and operators for alleged negligence.

In 1983, the owners of the Stardust were awarded damages of more than €730,000 after suing Dublin Corporation.

More in this section

Lunchtime News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up