‘We’ll never give up on a verdict’ – Stardust families

by Mark O'Brien

THE families of the victims of the Stardust disaster have vowed to fight on after they were denied a new enquiry into the cause of the disaster this week

The fire at the Stardust Ballroom in Artane on February 14, 1981 claimed the lives of 48 people and injured more than 100 others.

In January, Deputy Tommy Broughan (Ind) brought a motion to the Dail calling for the establishment of a new Commission of Investigation into the disaster after the Stardust Victims Committee said it had new evidence that would support a new enquiry.

The Government amended the motion, and tasked Judge Pat McCartan with reviewing the new evidence.

However, on Tuesday, the Department of Justice released Judge McCartan’s report, which concluded that a new enquiry was not warranted, calling the dossier of evidence compiled by researcher Geraldine Foy “rambling, argumentative, disorganised and at times incoherent”.

Speaking after the release of the report, Antoinette Keegan – who lost two sisters in the fire and was injured herself – said she was disappointed with the findings of the enquiry, but vowed to fight on.

She said: “Today is actually after making me stronger, much stronger than I ever was before. I was gutted earlier on, but I’m stronger now. I’m not letting them away with it.”

This is the third enquiry into the tragedy, with the cause of the fire having never been established.

Antoinette said that she wants the cause of the fire to be a matter of public record: “The 48 that are dead, they don’t even have a verdict. There’s no verdict recorded on the coroner’s certificate.”

Deputy Broughan said that he was very disappointed with the outcome of the report.

He said: “I feel very sad for Antoinette Keegan and those other families who have fought so hard for justice for their loved ones.

“I have always hoped that we would have justice similar to what recently happened with the Hillsborough disaster in Liverpool.

“Seeking justice for the relatives and victims of the Stardust disaster still remains unfinished business. It is a sad day for the constituency.”

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan released a statement following the release of the report. He said: “The Stardust fire was undoubtedly one of the greatest tragedies in the history of this country and the Government considered it important to assess all available evidence, including any new material that may have come to light.

“Having carefully considered the two previous independent reports on the tragedy, and having considered all material made available to him, Judge McCartan concluded that no further new enquiry is warranted.

“I want to acknowledge the terrible pain and loss of the relatives of the victims and the fact that the report does not come to the conclusion that they would have wished for.

“This report by Judge McCartan is the third independent assessment of the available evidence and, while I understand that the pain of the relatives is compounded by the failure to discover the cause of the fire, this report concludes that no new enquiry is warranted.”

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