Courts

Thursday 24 July 2014

Stardust: gardai probe alleged perjury by witnesses

Aishling Phelan

Published 11/02/2014|13:03

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Antoinette Keegan at the Stardust inquiry, her two sisters Mary and Martina perished in the fire
Antoinette Keegan at the Stardust inquiry, her two sisters Mary and Martina perished in the fire

GARDAI have launched a criminal investigation into alleged perjury by witnesses at the 1981 tribunal of investigations into the Stardust fire.

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Researcher for the families affected, Geraldine Foy, made statements to Gardaí containing what she believes is fresh evidence that warrants further investigation into the tragedy.

The families and fire expert Robin Knox have identified what they believe was suspect evidence given at the tribunal.

They allege perjury, meaning they believe some witnesses deliberately misled the original inquiry.

Ms Foy has been working with victim’s families for more than a decade and called for a new inquiry, more than 30 years after the inferno killed 48 young people in a nightclub in Artane on Valentine’s Day 1981.

Antoinette Keegan who lost her two sisters in the blaze and who spent two weeks on life-support battling her own injuries, said it was time to get the truth on public record.

She told independent.ie that the outcome of the original tribunal, ‘‘has wrecked our lives for the past 33 years.’’

‘‘We at last want to listen to the truth and hope the government listens to the truth.

‘‘It’s gone on for too long for the parents and families of those deceased, without truth there’s no closure or justice,’’ she said.

‘‘We haven’t been able to move on since 1981, 48 young lives were lost and it was criminal,’’ she insisted.

Those whom the allegations have been made against will be interviewed as part of the Garda investigation.

She said successive governments had played a ‘‘blameless game’’ in finding justice for the victims of the blaze.

She warned last year that the families would be producing "new evidence" about the tragedy and subsequent inquiry.

Ms Keegan was 18-year-old when the nightclub fire happened and her sisters were just 16 and 19-years-old when they died.

Statements have been taken from families of some of the victims.

They reject the findings of the tribunal set up in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, which found that the blaze may have been sparked by arson and started on a seat in the west alcove of the ballroom.

The families have consistently campaigned for another inquiry and have maintained that evidence given at the tribunal was flawed. 

The new inquiry began last month by a team based at Coolock Garda station and the families hope it will produce fresh evidence.

The initial investigation into the fire was based at the north Dublin station.

The current inquiry is headed by Det Insp Tony Howard.

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