Tuesday 15 October 2019

'Elated' - Relatives of victims of Stardust disaster react to news of fresh inquest into nightclub fire that killed 48 people

Antoinette Keegan at a previous commemoration of the 1981 Stardust disaster by the bereaved families. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Antoinette Keegan at a previous commemoration of the 1981 Stardust disaster by the bereaved families. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

Relatives of some of the 48 people killed in the Stardust disaster have said they are "elated" after the Attorney General announced the granting of a fresh inquest into the 1981 nightclub fire.

Antoinette Keegan, who survived the fire but lost her sisters, Mary, 19 and Martina, 16, took to Facebook to announce the news this evening.

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“We  have just received confirmation from the Attorney General that he will grant us a new inquest,” she wrote.

“This is amazing news, we never believed this day would come as you can imagine we are completely overwhelmed with the news and would ask that people give us space tonight to be with our families to absorb it.

“We will  be making a full Statement tomorrow.  Thank you all so much for all your support.”

READ MORE: Families of Stardust victims vow to block any redevelopment of site unless they are consulted on memorial

The interior of the Stardust which went on fire in the early hours of St Valentines Day ,1981. Photo: Independent Newspapers
The interior of the Stardust which went on fire in the early hours of St Valentines Day ,1981. Photo: Independent Newspapers

A spokesman for Darragh Mackin of Phoenix Law issued a statement on behalf of the families.

 “The Attorney General has today confirmed that a fresh inquest will be held into the 48 deaths at the Stardust fire, Artane, Dublin, on February 14, 1981," the statement read.

“The  families, through their lawyers, Phoenix Law, made a formal application for a fresh investigation by way of an inquest in April of this year.”

Mr Mackin added that the families were “delighted with today’s decision, however we would ask their privacy is respected tonight.”

READ MORE: 'We’ll never give up fighting for justice' - families of Stardust victims demand new inquest into 1981 tragedy

Ms Keegan had earlier today informed others via Facebook that the families were due to hear of a decision within two hours but sometime after this she revealed online there would be a new inquest.

Antoinette Keegan, whose sisters Mary and Martina were among the 48 victims, outside Leinster House (Niall Carson/PA)
Antoinette Keegan, whose sisters Mary and Martina were among the 48 victims, outside Leinster House (Niall Carson/PA)

The families have campaigned for many years for the fire to be further investigated and they had complained of several delays from the Attorney General’s office.

READ MORE: State Papers 1988: Bereaved Stardust families to receive least compensation

In the early hours of Valentines Day 1981, the fire tore through the nightclub, killing 48 and injuring 200.

A subsequent tribunal heard there had been a practice of locking emergency exits at the venue.

A plaque in memory of the 48 people who died in the Stardust nightclub fire in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)
A plaque in memory of the 48 people who died in the Stardust nightclub fire in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

The inquiry also found that arson was the probable cause of the blaze.  However this was never proven and no one has ever been held accountable.

READ MORE: 'I can't live with not knowing' - Woman who lost both parents in Stardust speaks out for first time

A statement from the Attorney General’s office read: “The Attorney General wrote to the representatives of the relatives on Wednesday 25 September, 2019.

“Having carefully considered all aspects of the matter the Attorney General has formed the opinion that fresh inquests into the Stardust deaths are advisable.

“This is because he considers that in the original inquests there was an insufficiency of inquiry as to how the deaths occurred, namely, a failure to sufficiently consider those of the surrounding circumstances that concern the cause or causes of the fire.

“The Attorney General is thus satisfied that the holding of fresh inquests is, on balance, in the public interest and in the interests of justice."

TRAGEDY: The scene of the 1981 Stardust disco blaze which claimed the lives of the teenage sisters of Antoinette Keegan
TRAGEDY: The scene of the 1981 Stardust disco blaze which claimed the lives of the teenage sisters of Antoinette Keegan

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