Wednesday 26 October 2016

Sit-in protesters call for new probe into Stardust disaster that killed 48

Eugene Kelly and Antoinette Keegan outside the Stardust Memorial at the Stardust Memorial Park in Bonnybrook.
Eugene Kelly and Antoinette Keegan outside the Stardust Memorial at the Stardust Memorial Park in Bonnybrook.

campaigners demanding a new investigation into the 1981 Stardust nightclub fire disaster staged a sit-in at the Department of Justice.

They initially said they would refuse to leave unless they were given a written undertaking that there would be a fresh inquiry into the Dublin tragedy that killed 48 young people and injured 214.


New material submitted to the Department last year by researcher Geraldine Foy on behalf of the campaigners should be the basis of a new investigation into the blaze, they claimed.

The protesters - Antoinette Keegan, Eugene Kelly and Gertrude Barrett - finally left the building after three hours yesterday, when they were given a letter by a Department official.

The letter stated that they will receive the Department's official response to the submitted material by next Wednesday at 2.30pm.

Stardust survivor Ms Keegan was on a life-support machine for two weeks after the fire which killed her two sisters, Mary (19) and Martina (16).

"We welcome this letter. We want a new inquiry based on the new material," she said.

A crucial factor in the new material was that an emergency 999 call reporting flames in the roof of the Artane venue during the early stages of the incident did not get sufficient weight in the original inquiry into the tragedy, she claimed.

She indicated that if the contents of that telephone call were not included in any new investigation, she would want her sisters' names removed from such an inquiry, as "that is not the fire they died in".

Mr Kelly's brother died in the disaster and Ms Barry lost her son Michael in the blaze in the early hours of February 14 - Saint Valentine's Day.

Some 841 young people were in the club that night.

Ms Keegan has campaigned for years for a new investigation, claiming that unless the full truth of what happened is revealed the families will not get closure or justice.


Mr Kelly said they would not leave the building until they received a letter from officials.

The original inquiry in 1981 concluded arson was the probable cause of the inferno.

In 2009, the government formally corrected the public record to state there was no evidence the Stardust fire was started deliberately and the cause of the fire was unknown.

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