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Image / Editorial

Stardust Fire: New inquests to be held for the 48 victims of the 1981 disaster


by Grace McGettigan
26th Sep 2019

Justice for the Stardust48 via Facebook

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Stardust Fire – Justice for the Stardust48 via Facebook

The Stardust fire in Dublin claimed the lives of 48 people and injured hundreds more. Now, 38 years on, the Attorney General has confirmed new inquests will be held into their deaths


On Valentine’s night, 1981, 48 people were killed and 214 others injured in a fire at the Stardust nightclub in Artane, Dublin. Now, 38 years later, their families may finally get some justice.

Attorney General Séamus Woulfe confirmed this week that new inquests will be held for the 48 people who died, following a request made in April from the victims’ families. This request was formally presented to the Attorney General by Phoenix Law and was supported by approximately 40,000 signatures from the public.

‘A failure’

In a statement issued by his office, Séamus Woulfe said “fresh inquests into the Stardust deaths are advisable,” adding it’s in the public interest and in the interests of justice.

The statement also said the original inquests had “insufficiency of inquiry as to how the deaths occurred, namely, a failure to sufficiently consider those of the surrounding circumstances that concern the cause or causes of the fire”.

New inquests may finally give families the truth and answers they’ve been looking for. Darragh Mackin, who is acting as the legal representative of the families involved, also issued a statement saying, “The families are delighted with today’s decision, however, would ask that their privacy is respected.”

Stardust fire

Previous investigations into the Stardust fire found that a number of the emergency exits were locked by chains on the night of the disaster; ultimately trapping people inside.

However, due to an initial finding of probable arson (something which was later ruled out in 2009), families were unable to take legal action against the club’s owners. And, to add to the controversy, these owners received more than €730,000 in damages from Dublin Corporation.

Antoinette Keegan, who survived the disaster but lost her two sisters Mary and Martina, said, “We have just received confirmation from the Attorney General that he will grant us a new inquest.

“This is amazing news. We never believed this day would come. As you can imagine, we are completely overwhelmed with the news and would ask that people give us space tonight to be with our families to absorb it.

“Thank you all so much for all your support.”

Photo: Justice for the Stardust48 via Facebook


Read more: Dublin, I love you but we need to turn things around

Read more: Dublin loses another creative hub, this time it’s the Tara Building

Read more: Dublin has been named the most accessible city in Europe: here’s why I disagree with that

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