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The victims of the Stardust fire The Journal

Stardust inquest coroner outlines testimony of survivors and continues summary of evidence

The inquest into the deaths of 48 people who died during a fire at a Dublin nightclub in 1981 is in its final stages.

THE JURY AT the Stardust inquest has been brought through the testimony of those who survived the fire at the club, with Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane telling the panel that patrons were all in agreement that the fire spread rapidly and took over the building suddenly.

The inquest into the deaths of the 48 young people who lost their lives in a blaze at the Artane nightclub in the early hours of 14 February 1981 is now in its final stages and the coroner is expected to complete her summary and directions to the jury in the coming days.

Outlining the evidence heard from patrons of the club today, Dr Cullinane noted that many of the witnesses gave very vivid descriptions of the effect of the smoke, with difficulty in breathing referred to in nearly all of the patron evidence.

She reminded the jury at Dublin District Coroner’s Court that there was also reference to the smoke and fumes causing people to become drowsy or sleepy and most patrons described not being able to see as a result of the smoke.

Dr Cullinane also took the jurors through an overview of the evidence heard relating to each of the six fire exit doors in the club.

Dr Cullinane also outlined the evidence of residents living in the vicinity of the Stardust. These witnesses gave accounts of first seeing the fire at the club at times ranging from 1.15am to 1.38am.

Earlier, Dr Cullinane reminded the jurors that they have heard evidence that the event in the Stardust was described as an over 21s disco but the 1981 Tribunal of Inquiry before Mr Justice Ronan Keane noted that 83% of the patrons present on the night were under the age of 21.

She said the majority of witnesses who testified stated that they were not required to provide evidence of their age when entering the club.

The coroner recapped the evidence given by a number of patrons about when they first smelled smoke and noticed the fire.

Dr Cullinane noted that the majority of witnesses who gave evidence about when they first saw the fire gave varying estimates, with an approximate time range of between 1.30am and 1.45am.

Dr Cullinane said all patrons agreed the fire spread rapidly and took over the building suddenly.

After completing her summary of evidence, Dr Cullinane will instruct the jury on the law and explain the findings they are required and entitled to make and what verdicts are available to them to return before the jurors retire to deliberate.

The inquest continues tomorrow.