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Stardust inquest could begin as soon as September, pending outstanding judicial review

Dr Myra Cullinane said that one of the main barriers to the inquests beginning was a judicial review filed in February.

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A SENIOR CORONER has said that the fresh inquests into the Stardust fire tragedy, where 48 young people were killed, could begin as soon as September.

Speaking at the 13th pre-inquest hearing at Dublin District Coroners Court, Senior Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said that it would have been her intention to begin the inquest proceedings in September.

She said that one of the main barriers to starting the inquest currently was the outstanding judicial review that was brought by Eamon Butterly, the former manager of the Stardust nightclub.

It comes comes after Butterly sought a ruling to preclude a possible verdict of unlawful killing in a previous pre-inquest hearing, which was then ruled out by Cullinane.

There were 48 people killed and over 200 people injured in a fire at the Stardust nightclub on 14 February 1981.

The judicial review was lodged in the High Court by O’Scanaill and Company Solicitors. Butterly’s legal team, in late February.

Cullinane also said that the outstanding legislation around jury selection, which would enable a inquest jury to be selected in the same manner as a typical court jury, is also keeping the inquests from beginning.

The legislation, brought forward by Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan, was not opposed by the Government with Justice Minister Helen McEntee considering amendments to make “special provision” for jury selection for the Stardust inquest.

Cullinane said that the current pre-inquest hearings are at an “advanced stage” and that once both the judicial review and jury selection legislation are resolved, she will be in a position to begin the inquests.

Darragh Mackin of Phoenix Law, who represents the Stardust families, welcomed the intentions of Cullinane to begin the inquests in September.

However, he did say that it was his position that the inquest could be started while the judicial review was outstanding, due to no injunction being sought.

Mackin added that it was “crucial” that a date for commencing the inquest is put forward.

He said that the intention to begin in September would be welcomed by the families of those who died in the Stardust tragedy.

Pillar Room

The issue surrounding the inquest venue was also mentioned by Cullinane, who said that she expected the next pre-inquest hearing is expected to be held in the Pillar Room in the Rotunda Hospital.

Yesterday, Boylan raised concerns around the venue for the pre-inquest hearings, which have recently been held in the Coroners Court on Store Street instead of the Pillar Room.

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Cullinane said that pre-inquest hearings had not been heard in the Pillar Room as no court had been established in the venue.

Mackin said that the current venue in Store Street had traumatic memories for the families as many had to identify the remains of the deceased there following the Stardust tragedy.

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Tadgh McNally

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