Belfast Telegraph

Stardust families still in shock at decision to grant fresh inquest

The Stardust Truth and Justice Campaign has fought for another probe for more than 30 years.

Stardust fire survivor Antoinette Keegan cries during a press conference after a fresh inquest was granted (Niall Carson/PA)
Stardust fire survivor Antoinette Keegan cries during a press conference after a fresh inquest was granted (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

The Stardust Truth and Justice Campaign has won a new inquest after more than 30 years of campaigning.

The group – comprised of survivors, the families of those who died and many from the north Dublin areas of Coolock, Artane, Ballybough and beyond who remember the Stardust – have carried on the work of John Keegan, who lost his daughters Mary and Martina in the fire.

Antoinette Keegan, Mr Keegan’s daughter who survived the fire but spent many weeks in hospital, said news that a new inquest has been ordered is yet to sink it.

She added: “We’re kind of in shock because we’ve had so many let downs before.

The truth will come out in the end, the truth has always been there Eugene Kelly, brother of victim

“In the 38 years, we have campaigned, my father started the Stardust Victim’s group in 1985 and he fought till his death bed for justice for the living and the dead.

“I think today is a victory for the dead, the 48 that perished, they have helped us and been guiding us, they have walked every step that we walked, they’ve helped us get where we are today.

“My son is 27 now, his life, his entire life has been the Stardust, I’d be dropping him to training on the phone about Stardust, taking him to school talking about the Stardust, having meetings in the house, it’s been his whole life.

“A few weeks back I thought ‘I’m packing this in’, and he said: ‘No mam, you’re nearly there, grandad would be so proud of you, don’t stop now.’

“I just thought right, we’re going to do this, we’re going to keep fighting.

“It’s positivity now, onwards and upwards.”

Eugene Kelly, whose brother Robert died in the fire, was emotional as he recounted his years of campaigning.

“We shouldn’t even be talking to you today, we shouldn’t even be here,” he said.

“It’s a joy, when I got the call I didn’t know what to say, I don’t know where I am even now, I didn’t sleep a wink last night.

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Survivors and relatives of the victims have been campaigning for decades (Niall Carson/PA)

“The truth will come out in the end, the truth has always been there.

“I often think about those poor firemen who were there, who didn’t get a mention over the years, I know some of them left their jobs after the fire, they must’ve experienced hell, we have to thank them for the work that they done.”

Selina McDermott, whose two brothers William, 22, and George, 19, died along with their 16-year-old sister Marcella, said the experience has been incredibly emotional.

She added: “The phone hasn’t stopped ringing, everyone is ecstatic, I can’t believe this day has actually come, I’m still shaking.

“When we told my mother who lost her children, she got very upset, it’s been a roller-coaster of emotions, we just cannot thank the public enough.

“Forty-eight young kids died, it destroyed an awful lot of families, it was a ripple effect through the northside of Dublin.

“We were always told the state did not want this reopened but we stayed strong and we’re still strong and we still need everyone’s support.”

PA

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