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Tributes paid to Stardust campaigner Christine Keegan

The Dublin mother, who campaigned for decades for those killed in the 1981 Valentine’s Day disaster, died on Tuesday.

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Christine Keegan, whose daughters Mary and Martina were among the 48 victims of the Stardust nightclub fire, at her home in Dublin before a protest march (PA)

Christine Keegan, whose daughters Mary and Martina were among the 48 victims of the Stardust nightclub fire, at her home in Dublin before a protest march (PA)

Christine Keegan, whose daughters Mary and Martina were among the 48 victims of the Stardust nightclub fire, at her home in Dublin before a protest march (PA)

Tributes are being paid to Stardust campaigner Christine Keegan, who died on Tuesday.

The Dublin mother, who campaigned for decades for those killed in the 1981 Valentine’s Day fire, was described as a “fighter and hero”.

Mrs Keegan’s two daughters Mary, 19, and Martina, 16, were killed in the fire while another daughter, Antoinette, survived the fire.

Antoinette and Christine became leading campaigners for justice and were heavily involved in the Stardust Victims Committee.

Attorney General Seamus Woulfe said in September he was ordering a fresh inquest into the blaze at the Stardust nightclub in Artane in Dublin’s Northside, in which 48 young people died.

The decision came following a renewed campaign by families and survivors.

A statement posted on the Justice for Stardust 48 Twitter page said: “It is with deep sadness that we have the announce the passing of Christine.

“Our thoughts are with Antoinette and all the Keegan family. Christine was an amazing woman, our hero, our fighter for justice for our loved ones.

“She is now at rest with John, Mary and Martina.”

Inquiries into the fire showed that a number of escape routes from the dance hall were blocked because emergency doors were locked by chains.

Concerns have also been raised about the investigation of the scene, which allowed politicians and media representatives to walk through the building just days later.

Despite findings of safety breaches, there were no prosecutions over the incident.

An initial finding of probable arson meant that the relatives of the dead and injured were unable to sue the club owners and operators for alleged negligence.

In 1983, the owners of the Stardust were awarded damages of more than 730,000 euro after suing Dublin Corporation.

Families and survivors have been lobbying the Irish Government for years in order to obtain a fresh inquiry.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald was among those paying tribute to the long-time campaigner.

She posted on Twitter: “So sorry to hear of the death of Christine Keegan a wonderful mother who lost two beautiful daughters in the Stardust disaster.

“She sought justice and justice must be served.”

Sinn Fein Senator Lynn Boylan said: “Very sad news tonight that Mrs Christine Keegan, the mother who fought tirelessly for justice for her two daughters has passed away.”

Solicitor for the families Darragh Mackin said: “Truly devastating. Mrs Christine Keegan was a real-life legend who never gave up in her quest for truth and justice for the Stardust.

“A true champion of the cause. She will be sadly missed by all.”

PA