Belfast Telegraph

RTE accused over Stardust tragedy

A senior adviser to Charles Haughey accused RTE of undermining the Stardust Tribunal by airing an in-depth report into the tragedy, State papers have revealed.

Two days after the Valentine's night disaster in the Artane dance hall, the Today Tonight programme planned to analyse the events - much to the disgust of a civil servant in the taoiseach's office.

In a hand-written memo to the Secretary to the Government on the morning the programme was going out, the adviser claimed that on face value it was inappropriate for RTE's current affairs division to make the show.

Today Tonight was reviewing what happened on the night 41 people died and the grounds for a tribunal.

"I do not know whether anything can be done to stop this programme or, indeed, whether the Taoiseach would wish that there should be any interference with RTE's direction in the matter," the civil servant wrote.

"On the face of it, it seems to be quite inappropriate for RTE to be undermining an inquiry in a matter that is to be the subject of a formal investigation pursuant to a Government decision."

A photocopy of television listings for February 16 1981 showing the Today Tonight programme on RTE was included in files on the Stardust inquiry.

Despite the concerns, the civil servants' fears were ultimately not acted on.

"This programme was mentioned by the minister to the Taoiseach this morning. I don't think that anything can be done about it," another official wrote back.

The Today Tonight programme was billed as an analysis of the issues around Stardust. It said it would look at what questions need to be asked, where the responsibility lies and why the fire happened?


From Belfast Telegraph