herald

Sunday 18 November 2018

Families of Stardust tragedy victims call for fresh inquest

The scene of the 1981 tragedy at the Stardust nightclub
The scene of the 1981 tragedy at the Stardust nightclub

Relatives of the Stardust victims are gearing up for a nationwide campaign to demand a new inquest into the 1981 tragedy.

Families of the 48 victims of the Stardust nightclub fire tragedy in Artane have been pushing for a second inquest into the tragedy.

Sinn Fein TD Denise Mitchell has now publicly announced her support for the Stardust Relatives and Victims Committee

Justice

"For the past 37 years, these families have had no justice.

"They have never got the full truth of what happened on St Valentine's night 1981.

"They have been let down by the justice system and by the State," said Ms Mitchell.

"We have seen from the North of Ireland and from Britain how fresh inquests can assist in bringing closure and justice to families who have painstakingly waited a very long time for the truth.

Sinn Fein TD Denise Mitchell. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Sinn Fein TD Denise Mitchell. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

"One example is that of the Hillsborough disaster," she said.

The families and their legal team had recently written to the Attorney General urgently requesting an inquest into the deaths be convened.

Antoinette Keegan, whose two sisters perished in the blaze, told the Herald: "We're still searching for answers and we won't stop until we get justice for our loved ones."

Ms Keegan, who was 18 at the time of the 1981 fire, said the victims' committee has new evidence of where the fire started but is "constantly being ignored". She insists the main source of the fire came from the roof and not the seating area, as currently documented.

"I was there and saw first-hand where the fire was coming from," she said.

"We're now starting a big campaign across the country and designing postcards, so people can write to the Minister for Justice and Attorney General to demand this inquest.

"Their mailbox will be full every day so then hopefully they'll have no choice but to act upon our request."

The Stardust nightclub was in full swing when, at around 1.40am, a fire suddenly broke out on Valentine's Day, 1981.

A total of 214 people were injured, 128 of them seriously, and 48 young people lost their lives.

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, Ms Keegan 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, as "that is not the fire they died in".

The original inquest into the deaths was held in 1982.

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