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Independent person to review new details from Stardust fire tragedy

Families say new evidence has come to light and are calling for a new inquiry into the 1981 fire.

Updated 5pm

THE GOVERNMENT HAS agreed an independent person will review the new evidence Stardust victims’ families say has recently been discovered.

A total of 48 people died in Stardust fire in Artane in 1981. Another 128 people were seriously hurt. After 36 years, the campaigners are now one step closer to having another investigation held into the tragedy.

There was deadlock yesterday between Independent Alliance junior minister Finian McGrath and his Fine Gael Cabinet colleagues over a motion put forward calling for an independent inquiry into the 1981 nightclub fire.

Deadlock 

McGrath, who has long campaigned for the families, asked his Cabinet colleagues to support the motion. However, after a two-hour long meeting, Cabinet could not agree.

Late last night, McGrath met with families of the victims in an effort to broker a compromise that might avert the need for a free vote (something he was calling for), as well as possible defeat for government or the families.

The proposal for an independent expert to review the new evidence, with a view to establishing a commission of investigation has now been accepted by government.

The government counter motion states that the new and updated evidence be assessed “urgently” by an independent person who has the trust of the families. If the independent assessment confirms the existence of new evidence, a Commission of Investigation must be immediately be established.

Antoinette Keegan Christine Keegan (left) and her daughter Antoinette Keegan, whose sisters Mary and Martina perished in the fire. Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Antoinette Keegan, a survivor of the Stardust who lost her sisters Mary and Martina in the inferno, told TheJournal.ie:

I will never stop speaking the truth. It is there. It cannot be avoided.

The siblings were all together in the nightclub in Artane when a fire broke out on St Valentine’s night in 1981.

Keegan says families of survivors have been fighting for justice for the last 36 years.

They now strongly claim new evidence which “cannot be ignored” has been discovered.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie yesterday, she makes clear that after three decades, her family and the loved ones of other victims have lost trust in the government.

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.

While the tragedy has been in the headlines countless times since 1981, it is in the news again this week due to the fresh calls for an independent inquiry by Independent TD Tommy Broughan.

startdust 413_90500957 Families of the victims who lost their lives in the Stardust fire in 1981. Source: Sam Boal

Keegan said the new evidence must be made public, adding that if it wasn’t for Stardust researcher Geraldine Foy, the victims’ committee group wouldn’t be here today.

“The families owe her so much,” said Keegan.

For close to two years, Foy has been reviewing thousands of transcripts from the Keane tribunal. The families believe she has discovered new evidence which disputes the original findings that the fire began in a seat.

Keegan is adamant the fire started in the roof-space, and not the seat.

The Keane report does not match up to what me and the other 100 people experienced that night when the fire was coming down on top of us.

Read:“Insults towards the Stardust victims” submission delivered to Attorney General>

Read: New garda file sent to DPP over Stardust tragedy>

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