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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 23 October, 2019

Stardust families seek fresh inquest, 37 years after coroner returned no verdict in fire deaths

A total of 48 people died in the fire.

Christine Keegan, whose daughters Mary and Martina were among those who died in the fire/
Christine Keegan, whose daughters Mary and Martina were among those who died in the fire/
Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

RELATIVES OF PEOPLE who died in the Stardust fire have put the Attorney General on notice that they are seeking a fresh inquest into the tragedy.

The families are hopeful that this effort will lead to a different finding to the original coroner’s report which did not record a verdict concerning the deaths.

A total of 48 people died and 214 were injured in fire in the nightclub in the Dublin suburb of Artane on St. Valentine’s Day in 1981.

In the aftermath of the fire, a tribunal of inquiry was set up under Justice Ronan Keane. However, the families rejected the findings which said arson was the ‘probable cause’ of the fire which began in the west alcove of the building.

An application is to be made to the Attorney General who decides if a fresh inquest is warranted.

The families will hold a press conference today alongside Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan and their solicitor by Darragh Mackin of KRW Law.

“The test is whether or not it’s advisable and in light of the inquiry report and the two reviews that have been conducted,” Mackin explains.

“It gives rise to fresh evidence and witnesses that were not called before the initial inquest and therefore should be considered in a fresh inquest coming to a conclusion.”

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.

The new evidence came to light as a result of years of campaigning by families and work by researcher Geraldine Foy and others.

Now families want a fresh inquest undertaken with Mackin saying that the threshold for the holding a new inquest is lower than that for an inquiry.

“The McCartan review determined that there was new evidence, not new evidence that warranted a reopening of a fresh inquiry, the threshold for opening a new inquiry is very high,” he said.

What it did however conclude is that there’s a fresh witness who could give relevant evidence and whom he never got to speak to and that as it stands that evidence remains in doubt and the reality is when there’s evidence of that kind is available a Coroner’s Inquest should deal with it.

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Rónán Duffy

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