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Stardust inquest to be held in the RDS due to Covid-19 guidelines

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Keegan family members at the Coroner’s Court in October

Keegan family members at the Coroner’s Court in October

Keegan family members at the Coroner’s Court in October

Dublin Castle will no longer be the setting for the long-awaited inquests into the deaths of 48 people in the Stardust disaster in 1981.

The RDS will be replacing Dublin Castle as the venue for hearings it emerged yesterday.

Dublin City Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane told a brief pre-inquest hearing at Dublin's Coroners Court, which was held online, that the venue was no longer available.

"I've been advised by the Department of Justice that the holding of these inquests, as earlier planned, at Dublin Castle is no longer possible," she said.

"There has always been a recognition of the impact of Covid-19 public health guidance on these proceedings

"However, due to the ongoing use of Dublin Castle by the Disclosures Tribunal, together with the requirement of the Department of the Taoiseach for accommodation at Dublin Castle for longer than was anticipated, it's no longer possible to use this venue if family members are to be able to safely attend the hearing while observing social distancing."

Dr Cullinane told the hearing the Department of Justice had "secured" the RDS as an alternative venue that she felt was "comparable if not superior" to Dublin Castle.

Solicitor for 44 of the families, Darragh Mackin, notified the hearing that long-time Stardust campaigner Eugene Kelly, whose brother Robert (17) died in the fire, had passed away in October.

"I should bring to the court's attention, Mr Eugene Kelly tragically passed away," Mr Mackin said.

Dr Cullinane responded: "I'm aware of that, I express my deepest condolences to the family of the late Mr Kelly."

The coroner said a "provisional scope" of the inquest hearings will "determine who has died, where and when they died and the cause of death".

The job of the inquests was to "establish the facts, to enquire the broader circumstances around the deaths", she added.

This would include all matters that are "in the public interest".

Among the issues to be examined will be the emergency response to the fire and the garda investigation, as well as the expert witness evidence.

Deadlines

The pre-inquest heard that there are plans from the families' legal representative to detail human rights law as part of the submissions.

The coroner said deadlines would have to be met before the next hearing, to allow for information to be heard.

The next pre-inquest is to be held on December 16, but this will not be held in public.

The coroner added that matters of "scope" on the fire would be dealt with on January 20 at another hearing.


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