Thursday 21 September 2017

Stardust families claim to have 'significant' new evidence as Government to discuss new inquiry into disaster

The interior of the Stardust which went on fire on the morning of the St. Valentines Day 1981, killing 45 young people. Photo Independent Newspapers
The interior of the Stardust which went on fire on the morning of the St. Valentines Day 1981, killing 45 young people. Photo Independent Newspapers
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A Private Members' Motion calling for a new inquiry into the Stardust disaster which claimed 48 lives will be brought before cabinet today.

The motion by Independent TD Tommy Broughan will seek to establish a commission of investigation into the tragedy.

Minister of State Finian McGrath said he will support the motion, despite the Government stating there is insufficient evidence for a new inquiry.

On Valentine’s Day 1981, a fire in the Stardust ballroom in Artane, Dublin, killed 48 young people and injured 214 others.

The interior of the Stardust after the fire in the early hours of St Valentine's Day, 1981 Photo: Independent Newspapers
The interior of the Stardust after the fire in the early hours of St Valentine's Day, 1981 Photo: Independent Newspapers

The families of those killed have not accepted the original probe’s findings, which they say do not reflect the experience of those who were there.

A tribunal of inquiry reported in November 1981 that the "more probable explanation of the fire is that it was caused deliberately" and "probably started [on a seat] in the west alcove."

Antoinette Keegan, who was 18 at the time of the 1981 fire, said the victims' committee has new evidence of where the fire started but are "constantly being ignored".

Speaking to Independent.ie, Antoinette insisted the main source of the fire came from the roof and not the seating area, as currently documented.

"I was there when the whole building collapsed on top of us. It came down on top of us, not from the seating area," she said.

"The Department of Justice have been told many times that two 999 calls were made that night informing them that there was a major fire on the roof and another small fire in the seating area,"she added.

A Department of Justice spokesperson said the department is considering the Private Members' Motion ahead of this week's Dáil debate.

Other families campaigning for a new inquiry believe key testimonies were omitted from the original report, including testimonies from witnesses both inside and outside the venue pointing clearly to the fire having started in the roof-space.

Brenda Kelly, a resident who was living near the Stardust stated she saw a fire at the club at about 1.30am and that she called 999 at 1.43am.

The final report does not refer to Ms Kelly's testimony or record her 999 call.

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