Thursday 13 December 2018

'We need closure, I can't live with not knowing' - woman who lost both parents in Stardust fire tragedy calls for fresh inquest

Lisa Lawlor pictured with her son, Lennon. Lisa lost her parents, Francis and Maureen Lawlor in the Stardust Fire. Photo: Damien Eagers
Lisa Lawlor pictured with her son, Lennon. Lisa lost her parents, Francis and Maureen Lawlor in the Stardust Fire. Photo: Damien Eagers
The interior of the Stardust
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

A barrister who advised the families of Hillsborough victims is assisting the Stardust campaign in a bid to have a new inquest into the tragedy.

The families of the 48 victims of the Dublin nightclub blaze in 1981 have formally notified the Attorney General they intend to apply for another inquest, with 25,000 backing their postcard campaign over the past month.

At a press conference yesterday, Darragh Mackin, a lawyer at KRWL solicitors, said the legal team representing the Stardust victims' families had been strengthened with the assistance of Alan Straw, a London-based barrister who advised on the campaign to get justice for the 96 Hillsborough disaster victims.

"It is in my view indicative of the strength the campaign has gathered, a pivotal and crucial stage, on an almost daily basis there's fresh evidence coming forward," said Mr Mackin.

"We're being inundated by contacts with fresh evidence, fresh witnesses and, as we can see from today, fresh victims coming forward who have never before had their voice heard.

"We're in a very advanced stage of the inquest application. We hope in the coming weeks the application will be launched."

Mr Mackin added: "The legal team has been strengthened twofold - we are now being advised as well by barrister Alan Straw, who actively advised the Hillsborough families in their petition for justice.

"He is now part of the campaign."

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan said an enormous amount of work had gone into their campaign and the legal aspect was "almost ready" to be presented to the AG.

A tribunal held the year after the fire concluded that the cause of the fire was probably arson.

In 2009, an independent examination into the tribunal found there was no evidence to support Justice Keane's finding the fire was started deliberately near the ballroom of the nightclub.

Lisa Lawlor - who was just 17 months old when her parents died in the fire - has also joined the campaign to have a new inquest heard.

"I went through intensive counselling for years, I was afraid of what I would hear and see if I joined the campaign," said Ms Lawlor yesterday.

"I wasn't strong enough. I wanted to ignore it, and I can't ignore it any more. We need closure, I can't live with not knowing."

Antoinette Keegan, who lost two sisters in the fire, slammed the Government's inaction.

"We have huge political support across the board, except from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

"The State has an obligation for a criminal investigation. In 37 years, the victims have become insignificant."

Irish Independent

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