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Survivors and families march for new inquest into Stardust tragedy

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Christy Moore at a march from Westland Row to the Attorney Generals Office seeking a fresh inquest in the Stardust Fire in 1981.

Christy Moore at a march from Westland Row to the Attorney Generals Office seeking a fresh inquest in the Stardust Fire in 1981.

Christy Moore at a march from Westland Row to the Attorney Generals Office seeking a fresh inquest in the Stardust Fire in 1981.

"Before we knew it, all hell broke loose."

Jimmy Fitzpatrick was just 17 when he was caught up in the Stardust tragedy and has lived with the memories of that terrible night ever since.

He lost six friends when a fire ripped through the Artane nightclub in the early hours of Valentine's Day 1981, killing 48.

"We were dancing and enjoying ourselves but before we knew it, all hell broke loose," said Jimmy, who suffered serious burns in the blaze.

In the panic to escape, he tripped and fell to the floor, where he was trampled by the fleeing crowds. He managed to make his way to a back door but found it chained shut.

"A number of us were kicking at the door to get it open. Just by the grace of God I got out. I was the last to fall out of the building," he said.

"I was in hospital until June 31 that year. And I was in and out of hospital getting surgery for years."

Along with the victims' families, Jimmy wants Attorney General Seamus Woulfe to order a fresh inquest to be held into the tragedy. The original inquests in 1982 returned causes of death, but no verdicts.

He admitted it is "hard to keep motivated" and continue the campaign for justice.

"But you look around at the families. I see their strength, they give me an inner strength," he said.

Several hundred supporters marched from Westland Row to Government Buildings to hand in the 48,000 signed postcards calling for a new inquest.

Peace

Among them was singer Christy Moore, who told the Herald: "We're standing here with hope today that the truth will finally be revealed and these people will get some peace of mind.

"It's been going on for far, far too long."

One of the organisers of the march, Antoinette Keegan - who survived the blaze but lost her sisters Mary and Martina - said: "The public has spoken, 48,000 times."

Brid McDermott (81), from Edenmore in Raheny, lost three of her children in the Stardust - William, George and Marcella.

"I left the key in the door for over a year after. I was still thinking they were just out with their friends," she said.

Brid, and her friend and neighbour Margaret O'Moore, travelled the country collecting some of the 48,000 signatures.

Margaret said the whole community in Edenmore was numbed by the tragedy.

"The one thing that stood out in my mind of that morning was the silence; nobody could speak, nobody could comprehend that three children were missing."


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