Friday 18 October 2019

'Nobody has been held accountable' - families of Stardust fire victims call for urgent meeting with Taoiseach

Antoinette Keegan, whose sisters Mary and Martina were among the 48 victims of the Stardust nightclub fire in Dublin on Valentine's Day in 1981, holds a picture of them outside Leinster House in Dublin. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Antoinette Keegan, whose sisters Mary and Martina were among the 48 victims of the Stardust nightclub fire in Dublin on Valentine's Day in 1981, holds a picture of them outside Leinster House in Dublin. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Gabija Gataveckaite

Family members of the Stardust tragedy victims are calling for an urgent meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in order to open up a new inquest.

Speaking on the Miriam O’Callaghan Show on RTÉ Radio One this morning, Antoinette Keegan spoke of losing her two sisters in the fire. She was joined on the show by her mother Christine and Eugene Kelly, who lost his brother.

“Still to this day, there’s nobody held accountable for deaths of 48 victims,” said Antoinette.

Family members are now hoping to file an application to the Attorney General, in an attempt to finalise the Coroner’s reports into the deaths of the 48 people that night.

Last Thursday, families of those who lost their lives in the fire held a vigil outside government buildings to mark the 38th anniversary of the tragedy, which took place at the Stardust nightclub in Artane on Valentine’s Day in 1981.

“This wasn’t just about a building that went on fire, this was about 48 young people that lost their lives,” said Antoinette.

“I would like to ask the Taoiseach what is the problem with meeting us? We’re human beings,” she added.

She explained that families of the victims have now seen three different enquiries, all to no avail.

The cause of the fire has previously been investigated in a Tribunal of Inquiry in 1981, a Reopened Inquiry into the Stardust Fire Disaster in 2009 and in 2017, Judge Pat McCartan ruled out the warrant for a new independent inquiry.

“The three of them have three different conclusions, we’re looking for the inquests to be re-opened, like what Hillsborough got and what Bloody Sunday got,” she said.

“We have a great legal team on board- we have Darragh Mackin, he’s our solicitor and we also have the forensic pathologist from the Grenfell Tower and we also have the barrister from the Hillsborough,” she said.

“We feel like we really need to see the Taoiseach because the application for the Attorney General is in its finalisation in this moment.

“It’s very very important that we meet him ASAP,” she concluded.

Antoinette made urgent calls for a meeting with the Taoiseach as she recalled back to the terrifying night. She managed to escape the fire but lost two sisters, Mary and Martina, who were aged 16 and 19.

“We were trampled on and we couldn’t get up because people were rushing and running over us, trying to get out,” she recalled.

“As we lay on the ground and I just said god please help us, help us,” she said.

“It was like being in hell,” Antoinette added.

Eugene, speaking alongside Antoinette this morning, lost his brother Robert in the fire.

“I was so close to Robert, he was like my best friend because he would have done anything for me and I would have done anything for him,” he said.

“I’m pleading with the government, the government that’s in power today, I’m pleading with them, give us a closure once and for all and let these women get on with their lives. Because from day one, in 1981, they’ve had no lives,” he said.

“It’s about time that these people that are in power today let us get justice once and for all,” he added.

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