Stardust inquest to begin in April, families hoping for earlier date

A pre-inquest hearing in Dublin heard that selecting a jury would take 19-20 weeks
Stardust inquest to begin in April, families hoping for earlier date

Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

The inquest into the Stardust nightclub deaths will be held in April, a coroner’s court has heard, but families of the victims are “very hopeful” it could be earlier.

A lengthy process has been continuing to hold an inquest into the deaths of 48 people in the nightclub fire in Dublin on Valentine’s Day in 1981.

A pre-inquest hearing at Dublin District Coroner’s Court on Wednesday heard it will take the courts service an estimated 19 or 20 weeks to select a jury.

Retired RTÉ broadcaster Charlie Bird and several family members attended the hearing.

Stardust nightclub fire inquest
Veteran broadcaster Charlie Bird with Antoinette Keegan, whose two sisters, Mary and Martina, died in the Stardust fire (Brian Lawless/PA)

“I’ve been informed that following any request I make to the court service and the county registrar seeking their assistance in the summary of the jury, the estimated time that will be required by them to conclude the jury assembly process will be between 19 and 20 weeks,” Dublin city coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said.

She indicated she would make that request, and “the likely commencement date of these inquests will be no earlier than April of next year, 2023”.

The Stardust families said they were disappointed with the long timeline, but were hopeful that an earlier date would be set with the help of additional resources from the Government.

“It’s a little bit disappointing, but at the same time it’s positive, it’s the first that we’ve actually heard that the inquest is going to start, we’ve been left in limbo for so long,” said Antoinette Keegan, whose two sisters, Mary and Martina, died in the fire.

She said the Stardust families were hopeful that the inquest would take place before April.

“We’re very hopeful, we’re very hopeful. We’re hoping that we can actually bring it forward to possibly after the 42nd anniversary, mid February, end of February, possibly the 1st of February.”

Gertrude Barrett, whose son Michael died in the fire, said she was not surprised by the delay.

“I’ve been dealing with, you know, all these governments – this is not new,” she told reporters.

“But what more would you expect? There’s always something.”

The families’ legal team is to ask the Minister for Justice for resources with the aim of holding the inquest earlier than April.

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