Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Thursday 21 September 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Leah Farrell Family members of some of those 48 people killed in the Stardust fire attending the 41st anniversary event at the site of the fire.
# stardust inquest
Former Stardust owner fails in court claim to have unlawful killing verdict excluded at inquest
Former Stardust manager Eamon Butterly had launched proceedings seeking to have the verdict of unlawful killing ruled out as a potential option for jurors.

LAST UPDATE | Nov 2nd 2022, 11:47 AM

THE HIGH COURT has ruled that a verdict of unlawful killing will be open to the jury in the Stardust inquest. 

It comes after former Stardust manager Eamon Butterly launched proceedings seeking to have the verdict of unlawful killing ruled out as a potential option for jurors.

Butterly and his family owned the Artane nightclub when fire broke out leading to the deaths of 48 people on the night of 14 February 1981.

He claimed that the new inquest into the disaster could wrongfully make him a target for a verdict of unlawful killing.

Butterly sought a ruling to preclude a possible verdict of unlawful killing in a previous pre-inquest hearing, which was ruled out by Senior Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane.

He then indicated that he would challenge the constitutionality of the forthcoming inquests unless unlawful killing was ruled out.

Unlawful killing is among a number of different findings that can be reported by an inquest, including misadventure and accidental death.

Lawyers representing many of the victim’s families opposed Butterly’s application.

Darragh Mackin of Phoenix Law, who represents 47 of the 48 families impacted by the Stardust tragedy, welcomed the ruling.

“The families we act for are relieved with today’s news and are hopeful that the Stardust Fire Inquests can now proceed as planned,” Mackin said.

“The significance of a potential verdict of unlawful killing cannot be overstated for these families. They have from the outset maintained that such a verdict ought to be considered by a jury. Today’s decision not to exclude such a verdict, is of a massive importance.

“To have the backing of the High Court that these inquests should proceed with a full and fair investigation and for all verdicts to be on the table, as is normally the case, is a meaningful endorsement of the families’ pursuit of truth and justice in the Stardust Fire Inquests.”

Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan has welcomed today’s High Court ruling.

“The families of those who lost their lives in the Stardust Fire have waited four decades for answers,” she said.

“The decision taken by the High Court today to leave the verdict of ‘Unlawful Killing’ available to the jury is very welcome.

“There have been a number of legal obstacles since the Attorney General, Seamus Wolfe, granted a fresh inquest into the fire, including access to legal aid and the selection of the jurors.

“Today’s High Court Ruling should pave the way for the Inquest to proceed without any further delay.”

Forty-eight people were killed and over 200 injured in the fire on 14 February 1981.

Contains reporting from Tadgh McNally and Aodhan O Faolain

Comments are closed for legal reasons.