Stardust families must have ‘another day in court’

Stardust families must have ‘another day in court’

By Cate McCurry, PA

The Stardust families must have “another day in court”, the Dáil was told, as calls echoed for justice for the 48 victims who were unlawfully killed in the fire.

Members of opposition parties were united in their praise for the families and survivors of the 1981 tragedy, and their long fight for truth and justice.

Taoiseach Simon Harris issued a State apology to the families of the Stardust disaster, some 43 years after the blaze ripped through the busy nightclub.


In the Dáil on Tuesday, there were calls for accountability of who was responsible for the unlawful deaths.


Opposition politicians told the Government that the apology should be followed up by a redress scheme for the families.

Successive governments and former taoisigh were widely criticised for failing the families.

Labour TD for Dublin Bay North Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said it was time for the gardaí, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee to “do what is right”.

“If those you loved were unlawfully killed, then someone unlawfully killed them,” he said.

“What would happen in any other case of corporate manslaughter in any other part of the city? There must be another day in court.

“Stardust will always be a scar. A tale of greed. A tale of recklessness. A tale of horror. Of poisonous lies. But of resilience. Of hope. Of campaigning and of truth.

“The Stardust families are heroes of this Republic. We are honoured to be in their presence today. They would much rather not be here.

“They would much rather have seen their loved ones grow older in the last 43 years. But you have made all of us want to be better. To work harder. To campaign more. To listen more. To judge less. And to speak the truth.”


Sinn Féin president Mary-Lou McDonald said the state “finally apologised” to the families of those killed in the Stardust fire tragedy “because they didn’t give up”, adding “now let justice flow like a river”.

“They [the families] are here today in the public gallery of the Dáil and they are here in victory,” she said.

“When the verdict came through last Thursday, it confirmed what the people of Ireland already knew – unlawful killing, unlawful killing 48 times. It wasn’t arson. None of the young people who went to the Valentine’s dance were responsible.

“Now the big lie that cast a shadow over your lives since the 13th of February 1981 has been lifted once and for all.

“So this moment, this victory, this vindication is first and foremost for those unlawfully killed, for the survivors, for the courageous families who have lived for years with the pain of their lives, with the ghosts of unanswered questions and with the sorrow of the empty chair.

“For the 48 young people who never came home, finally, the truth is revealed. For the survivors who have endured a lifetime of suffering, finally, the truth has prevailed and you, their families, brought the truth home for them and now let justice flow like a river.”

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said there must be engagement about a redress scheme for the families.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said he hopes the delivery of a state apology is the “beginning of the truth” for the families of the Stardust fire tragedy.

“I hope today is the beginning of the truth because it’s certainly, I think, not the end. An apology is not enough, there has to be true justice and true accountability for those that frustrated your fight for truth and for justice for your loved ones,” he said.

Stardust nightclub fire
Taoiseach Simon Harris issued a State apology to the families of the victims of the Stardust fire (Oireachtas TV/PA)

“The State has to explain and own up to its own responsibility in all of this.”

He commended the families of those killed in the tragedy for their campaigning.

“I just want to commend you. This is your day. We’re only here because of what you have done in your ceaseless fight for justice because of the love you had for your family members who lost their lives, who were killed,” he said.

“This is your day, and I hope this is the beginning, and all I will say to the government is this must be led by the families. What follows from here must be led by the families. Only they know what truth and justice means and to provide that for their loved ones and those who survived this terrible tragedy and injustice.”