By Dominic McGrath, PA
A verdict of “unlawful killing” will not be excluded in the inquest into the Stardust tragedy.
Forty-eight people died in the Stardust nightclub fire in Dublin on February 14th 1981.
Eamon Butterly, the former manager of the nightclub, had sought a ruling that would have seen such a verdict ruled out ahead of the forthcoming inquest.
On Wednesday, Dr Myra Cullinane, the Dublin city coroner, rejected the application.
In a five-page ruling on Wednesday, she said: “To rule out any verdict prior to the hearing of any evidence would be manifestly to invert the prescribed process.
“It is not appropriate for a coroner to rule out any verdict, on the grounds that it is not possible to know definitively what evidence may be called or what findings may be made on foot of that evidence.”
Dr Cullinane, in her decision, said: “It is not within my power as a Coroner to investigate allegations of civil or criminal wrongdoing, although it is both my power and my duty to investigate acts or omissions which might – in other settings – be consistent with such allegations.”
She said that it was not the role of an inquest to censure or exonerate any person.
The coroner concluded: “All potential verdicts should be left available to the jury, in case evidence is called that might lead to such a verdict.
“I do not believe that it is either necessary or appropriate in these circumstances to take the further step of saying that no verdict of unlawful killing is available.
“Directions will be given to the jury at the opening of the inquests, at the closing before they retire to consider their verdict, and possibly at other points.”
The 41st anniversary of the fire was marked last week, as the families of the victims pledged to keep fighting for justice.