Stardust tragedy set for review of new evidence

Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance agreed on the wording of a motion on the issue this evening

Stardust tragedy set for review of new evidence

Representatives from the Stardust Victims Committee Antoinette Keegan(2ndL), Gertrude Barrett(1stL), Christine Keegan and Brid McDermot(R), 15-1-2009. Image: RollingNews

The government has agreed to order a new review of the evidence surrounding the Stardust nightclub fire in Dublin.

The tragic blaze in 1981 took the lives of 48 people.

Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance have agreed to appoint an independent figure to review some 'new and updated evidence' that has reportedly come to light.

Should the existence of the new evidence be confirmed, the government will then set up a full new commission of investigation.

The government plan agrees that the independent figure will need to have the trust of the families of the 48 victims - and commits the government to meeting with the families.

The government motion is in response to a private members motion from Independents4Change TD Tommy Broughan which called for a commission of investigation.

Speaking in the Dáil this evening, the Tainaiste Frances Fitzgerald said "full regard" will be given to any new evidence that can, "definitively establish the cause of the fire."

“If the independent assessment confirms the existence of new evidence, a commission of investigation will be established and the government will proceed on the basis as outlined in the motion tonight,” she said. 

Late last year, the families of the victims said they had presented the government with the new evidence, "time and again over the last number of years."

The cabinet was reportedly split yesterday on the need for a new investigation - with Fine Gael saying new evidence should be produced before a commission was justified.

Minister of State, Finian McGrath - who has been calling for a new inquiry for years - insisted it was necessary.

Following the agreement on the counter-motion this evening, he said now is the time to fully investigate:

“We are not going to hang around on this issue,” he said.

“The first thing I want to see happening is [...] I would like to see the families coming directly into talks with the government and with the department of Justice.”

Stardust Survivor Antoinette Keegan, who lost two of her sisters in the tragedy, says she wants to see the matter addressed urgently: 

"It is down as urgent so this is not going to be a case that is going to be next year or the year after - urgent means now," she said.

"36 years next February, Valentines Day, it should start commencing immediately."

The government counter-motion is being debated in the Dáil this evening - however it has the support of a majority of Dáil politicians and is almost certain to be passed.