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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 6 December, 2019

Families of Stardust fire victims meet with Europe commissioner about new inquiry

Witnesses have claimed that the fire broke out in a completely different part of the nightclub than previous tribunals stated.

Darragh Mackin, legal representative for the Stardust fire victims.
Darragh Mackin, legal representative for the Stardust fire victims.
Image: Sam Boal

THE FAMILIES OF the victims of the Stardust tragedy have met with the office of the Human Rights Commissioner in Strasbourg to push for an inquiry into the deadly 1981 fire.

The families are to lodge a formal application for a fresh inquest in the next two weeks based on new evidence, and have asked the Council of Europe commissioner to ask for her support and to pressure the Irish government in this regard.

On St Valentine’s Day in 1981, 48 people died and 214 were injured after a fire broke out in the Stardust nightclub in the Dublin suburb of Artane.

The families rejected the findings of a subsequent Keane tribunal, which said arson was the “probable cause” of the fire which began in the west alcove of the building. Questions had been raised about the fire escapes in the building, and the safety measures in place.

Last year, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan decided against another enquiry, following the recommendation of retired judge Pat McCartan who reviewed new evidence in the case.

Today, the families’ legal representative Darragh Mackin outlined the new evidence, including interviews with survivors of the fire who have never given evidence in an official capacity.

“We’ve a number of different witnesses who say that the fire started in a wholly different place to where the original tribunals have found,” Mackin told EuroParlRadio (the tribunal found that it broke out in the west alcove, where other witnesses say it started on the rooftop).

He called the inquest “pathetic”, and said that there has been “one failure after another”.

The Keane Tribunal originally put the blame at the door of the families, that in itself was wholly disrespectful and ineffective.

He said that two subsequent reviews were not investigations, and were “wholly unacceptable and insulting” to the families.

MEP Lynn Boylan, who hosted the meeting, said that the meeting was “productive”.

“While the Council of Europe can’t make recommendations on individual cases, it is important that the case of the Stardust and the broader issues of accessing justice were brought to their attention,” she said.

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