Families of Stardust victims will receive State apology following meeting with Taoiseach

Families of Stardust victims will receive State apology following meeting with Taoiseach

THE families of the victims of the Stardust nightclub fire will receive a State apology this week, Taoiseach Simon Harris has confirmed.

The campaigners have been commended for their ‘steadfast pursuit of justice’ after fresh inquests ruled their loved ones were ‘unlawfully killed’ last week.

Some 70 members of the victims' families met with the Taosieach yesterday, with Mr Harris claiming the “lengthy meeting” was “humbling and emotional”.

“I want to thank every person who attended for what they told me, both as a group and in private individual conversations,” he said.

“More than 70 people came to the Department of the Taoiseach today, however, I am acutely aware that the numbers affected by Stardust is many, many multiples of that,” he added.

“That includes those injured, the people working in Stardust, the frontline workers who fought to save lives on the night.

“It includes survivors, the fire crews, the ambulance staff, the gardaí, the army, the taxi drivers and the communities across Ireland who have carried this tragedy with them for 43 years.”

Mr Harris confirmed a state apology would be made to the families this week.

“I have listened closely to everything the families told me and as Taoiseach, I have apologised unreservedly to each family. I will do so on behalf of the State on Tuesday next.”

Some 48 people aged between 16 and 27 died in the blaze at the club in Artane, Dublin which broke out in the early hours of February 14, 1981.

A further 200 people were injured in the fire, which was first reported to local emergency services at around 1.40am that morning.

The families of the Stardust victims met with Taoiseach Simon Harris yesterday

The families of the victims have consistently called for the truth of what happened on that night to be confirmed.

In 2019 their calls were answered when Ireland’s attorney general ordered fresh inquests into every one of the deaths.

Those inquests began in April last year and came to a close last week, with the jury returning a verdict of ‘unlawful killing’ on each death on April 18.

The foreman of the jury told Dublin coroner Dr Myra Cullinane that they had reached the majority verdict after 11 days of deliberation.

The jury further confirmed that they believed the cause of the fire to be an "electrical fault in a hot press" within the nightclub building.

They also found factors such as obstructed exits and flammable furnishings within the building exacerbated the spread and impact of the fire.

Members of the Stardust families on their way into a meeting with Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Simon Harris at government buildings yesterday

Members of the victims’ families present at the hearing jumped for joy while others burst into tears on hearing the verdict.

President Higgins was among the first to commend them following the outcome of the inquest, claiming it was “a vindication of the fight of those relatives” and a “promise fulfilled, carried out over 43 long years, to the 48 young people who had their lives cut short on a night they had simply set out to spend and enjoy in the company of their friends”.

“The inquests, which it must be remembered have only taken place due to endurance and tenacity in the insistence of their families never to give up and to have a conclusion as to fact, have provided for dignity and recognition, however late, being accorded to the lives of each of those 48 young people,” the President said.

“Recognition as to the meaning of their lives, the significance of their relationships and friendships, and recognition of the devastating impact which their deaths had on the shared dreams and hopes of all those who cared for and loved them,” he added.