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'I'll carry on crusade for mum', vows daughter of Stardust hero Christine

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Antoinette Keegan and her mother Christine with photos of Mary and Martina. Photo: Tom Burke

Antoinette Keegan and her mother Christine with photos of Mary and Martina. Photo: Tom Burke

Antoinette Keegan and her mother Christine with photos of Mary and Martina. Photo: Tom Burke

The daughter of Stardust fire disaster campaigner Christine Keegan has vowed to carry on her mother's fight for justice following her death earlier this week.

Antoinette Keegan said her mother (84) died on Tuesday thinking the State had finally fulfilled its promise to hold an inquest into the deaths of 48 young people in the blaze.

They included Antoinette's sisters Mary (19) and Martina (16), who died in the fire at the Stardust nightclub in Artane on Valentine's Day 1981, which Antoinette survived.

Despite a promise by Attorney General Seamus Woulfe last September that a fresh inquest would be held, the family have still not been given a date despite lobbying for one for nearly four decades.

Crusade

To comfort her dying mother, who took ill on the 39th anniversary of the tragedy, Antoinette said she was forced to lie and tell her a date had finally been set.

"She died not knowing this wasn't the case," she said.

Antoinette and her mother became leading campaigners for justice and were heavily involved in the Stardust Victims Committee.

To honour her mother's crusade, Antoinette vowed to fight on for answers.

"I'm more determined now than I ever was," she said.

"We're left here lingering on like beggars, but I'm not letting it go. There's my poor mother gone to meet her maker. It's an absolute disgrace."

Due to Covid restrictions, her mother's funeral this Saturday at St Joseph the Artisan Church in Coolock will be restricted to 45 mourners.

However, Antoinette said that anyone who wants to pay tribute can do so during a memorial service to be held at 10am on Saturday at the Stardust Memorial Park in Coolock.

Inquiries into the fire showed a number of escape routes from the dance hall were blocked because emergency doors had been secured with chains.

Concerns have also been raised about the investigation of the scene, which politicians and the media were allowed to visit only days later.

Despite findings of safety breaches, there were no prosecutions.

An initial finding of prob-able arson meant 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.

Families and survivors have been lobbying the Government for years for a fresh inquiry.

Tributes

Tributes poured in yesterday following the news of Mrs Keegan's death.

A statement from the Justice for Stardust 48 committee on Twitter read: "It is with deep sadness that we have to ann-ounce the passing of Christine.

"Our thoughts are with Antoinette and all the Keegan family. Christine was an amazing woman, our hero, our fighter for justice for our loved ones. She is now at rest with John, Mary and Martina."

The families' solicitor Darragh Mackin said: "Truly devastating. Mrs Christine Keegan was a real-life legend who never gave up in her quest for truth and justice for the Stardust."

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald tweeted: "So sorry to hear of the death of Christine Keegan, a wonderful mother who lost two beautiful daughters in the Stardust disaster. Justice must be served."