Stardust disaster inquest to begin in September after death of long-time campaigner

The coroner has come under increased pressure in recent weeks to launch the inquest, which was granted last year, after the death of Christine Keegan, whose daughters Mary and Martina died in the blaze.
Stardust disaster inquest to begin in September after death of long-time campaigner
Christine Keegan, who lost two daughters in the fire at the Stardust nightclub on Saint Valentines Day in 1981, in which forty eight people died. Photo: RollingNews.ie

The inquest into the Stardust fire disaster will begin in Dublin Castle in September.

The coroner has come under increased pressure in recent weeks to launch the inquest, which was granted last year, after the death of Christine Keegan, whose daughters Mary and Martina died in the blaze.

Mrs Keegan had campaigned for an inquest into the cause of the fire for over 30 years.

A dedicated website has now been set up for the inquest, and pre-trial hearings are to begin on an unspecified date in September.

The full inquest, which is expected to the biggest in the history of the state, will begin in the new year.

The popular nightclub in Artane, Dublin, was destroyed in a blaze on Valentine’s Day in 1981 in what is considered the worst fire disaster in the history of the state.

Investigations into the fire showed that a number of escape routes from the dancehall 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.

The arson judgment has since been dismissed and campaigners say they have found new evidence that the fire began in the building’s roof space.

Stardust campaigner and Sinn Féin senator Lynn Boylan has welcomed the setting up of an official Stardust Inquest website by the Coroner’s Court.

“The setting up of a dedicated website is a very welcome step and will no doubt prove to be a very valuable tool as the inquest progresses. I believe that it is the first time such a website has been created for an inquest,” she said.

“I am also pleased to see that Dublin Castle has been confirmed as the location for the inquest. The Stardust Inquest will be the largest inquest in the history of the State and the families of those who died wanted a location that would be accessible and appropriate for such a significant undertaking.

“I believe that Dublin Castle is a fitting choice of location.

"I hope that the inquest itself can now get underway without delay.”

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