Stardust tragedy - When there are no answers

Whenever a young person dies in horrific, unexpected, and extreme circumstances, his or her parents, family, and close friends want answers: How did it happen? Why did it happen? Who is responsible?

Whatever questions they raise and whatever the answers to any or all of those questions, there is one uncomfortable certainty — they will not bring their loved one back.

That is the situation faced by the families of those who died in the fire at the Stardust ballroom, in Artane, Dublin, on Valentine’s Day in 1981.

The families have endured a life sentence of waiting to see someone prosecuted for the 48 deaths and wanting the cause of the fire to be put on record.

That is understandable but unlikely to happen, in the light of a report into the tragedy by retired judge Pat McCartan.

The cause of the fire has never officially been established and his assessment has found no new or compelling evidence to justify a new inquiry.

This report is likely to inform the Cabinet’s decision on whether there should be a commission of investigation into the fire.

The families of the victims of the Stardust tragedy have said they reject the McCartan report, but they cannot ignore the fact that it was a thorough, fair-minded, and truly independent assessment of the evidence available.

Sometimes, tragically, there are no answers.

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