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Family members of some of the 48 people killed in the Stardust fire gather for the 41st anniversary of the tragedy Leah Farrell
Stardust fire

Fresh inquests into Stardust nightclub tragedy won't start before April 2023

The announcement was made at a pre-inquest hearing this afternoon.

FRESH INQUESTS INTO the Stardust nightclub fire will not begin before April 2023, a pre-inquest hearing heard this afternoon.

At a pre-inquest hearing today, Senior Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane confirmed that due to the lengthy period of time required to select a jury, the inquest would not be able to commence until April 2023 at the earliest.

According to Cullinane, it is expected to take between 19 and 20 weeks to select a jury for the inquest through the court service.

It comes after months of delay to the inquests, following legal action taken by the former manager of the Stardust nightclub, Eamon Butterly, over the decision of Cullinane to include ‘unlawful killing’ as a potential verdict.

However, the High Court ruled earlier this month that a verdict of unlawful killing would be made available to potential jurors.

At this afternoon’s pre-inquest hearing, Cullinane said that it was her intention to request the County Registrar to begin the jury selection process to allow the inquests to begin around April next year.

Cullinane also queried whether or not the inquest process could begin while the jury selection was ongoing, with the introduction of pen portraits.

Pen portraits are typically used at inquests to help both the coroner and jury learn about the subject of an inquest.

However, Michael O’Higgins SC, who represents 47 of the 48 families who lost a family member during the Stardust tragedy, said that they would be “implacably opposed” to the suggestion.

Following the concerns from the families, Cullinane ruled that the inquest should not proceed to pen portraits until after the jury was empaneled and in place.

Concerns around the selection of witnesses were also raised, with Cullinane outlining a full list of 312 witnesses having been contacted following a “careful selection processes”.

This process initially had begun in early 2021, with Cullinane seeking all witnesses with information that falls under the scope of the inquest.

However, she did clarify that it would not be possible to hear every witness, saying that there needed to be a structure to the inquest itself.

However, O’Higgins raised concerns and said that, over 40 years on from the Stardust tragedy, the memories of some witnesses may be frail and likely to fade.

He added that the coroner and her staff should have interviewed individual witnesses.

The next pre-inquest hearing is scheduled to take place on Thursday 15 December at the Pillar Room in the Rotunda.

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