Belfast Telegraph

Fresh Stardust blaze inquest is welcomed by Northern Ireland victim's brother

Eugene Kelly, looks at a photo of his 17-year-old brother Robert, who died in the 1981 fire
Eugene Kelly, looks at a photo of his 17-year-old brother Robert, who died in the 1981 fire
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

The brother of a Londonderry woman who died in the Stardust disaster hopes a new inquest will discover the full story of what happened.

Forty-eight people were killed in the St Valentine's Day blaze in Artane, Dublin, in 1981.

It was the worst fire in the history of the Irish state.

On Wednesday the Republic's attorney general agreed that a new inquest should be held after years of campaigning from bereaved families.

Susan Morgan was one of three people from Northern Ireland who died in the disaster.

Her brother Terry said he hoped the new inquest would provide answers.

"The death of our sister Susan in the Stardust fire in 1981 was an awful tragedy and is still sore for us all," he added.

Bridget McDermott and her daughter June hold pictures of relatives William, Marcella and George, who died in the fire
Bridget McDermott and her daughter June hold pictures of relatives William, Marcella and George, who died in the fire

"In many ways we tried to get on with our lives.

"We are delighted that there has been an announcement for a fresh inquest and hope that this is the first step on the journey to truth and justice."

The campaign for a new inquest was led by Antoinette Keegan, who was badly injured in the fire and lost two sisters, Mary and Martina.

"When we met last year with the Dublin families I felt personally humbled at their dignity and determination and I wish to publicly acknowledge Antoinette Keegan, who led the campaign over many years," Terry said.

"This is a good day for all the families and we hope the truth will now be told."

A tribunal chaired by Justice Ronan Keane was held in the year following the fire.

He concluded the cause was "probably arson", which was contested by victims' families.

Ms Keegan said the decision to grant a new inquest was a turning point.

She said everyone who was in the nightclub on the night of the blaze and who survived would have the opportunity to make a statement, as would the next of kin of everyone who died.

Susan Morgan
Susan Morgan

Ms Keegan also appealed to the families of two Belfast victims, James Millar and Robert Hillock, to make contact.

She said: "When I got the call that there was going to be a new inquest, I broke down and cried.

"I knew this was the opportunity we have been fighting for so that the real truth of what happened will come out.

"There were 840 people in the building that night, but I don't think even 100 gave evidence. For years we have campaigned to say what is in public record is not the truth and not what we experienced.

"Now everyone who was in that building can come forward and give their testimony, along with the experts who can pinpoint the cause and the origins of the fire.

"Hopefully someone will be held accountable.

"We have never been able to locate the next of kin of the two young men from Twinbrook, James Millar and Robert Hillock, but we hope that through the Belfast Telegraph they will get in touch with us."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph