Stardust survivor: ‘I was called a liar’ 

“It's time now for the State to realise the damage that it's done."
Ellen Kenny
Ellen Kenny

11.09 20 Apr 2024

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Stardust survivor: ‘I was call...

Stardust survivor: ‘I was called a liar’ 

Ellen Kenny
Ellen Kenny

11.09 20 Apr 2024

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Following the ruling that the 48 Stardust victims were unlawfully killed, one survivor of the fire reflects on 43 years of trying to get justice. 

Jurors in the Stardust Inquest ruled on Thursday that the fire in 1981 started in the hot press in the dispense bar and was due to an electrical fault. 

Stardust survivor Antoinette Keegan was 18 years old at the time of the fire and lost her two sisters Mary and Martina. 


After decades of campaigning for a just verdict on the death of her sisters and 46 other victims, she said Thursday’s ruling was a “momentous day”. 

“We waited so long – for 43 years,” she told The Anton Savage Show. 

“43 years telling the truth to various ministers and Taoiseachs over the years. 

“I was called a liar, everyone called me a liar: ‘That wasn’t true, it wasn’t in the case files’. 

“They were young people, they went there for a night and their life was cut short in the blink of an eye – they were killed.” 

Ms Keegan praised Dr Myra Cullinane, the coroner who oversaw the inquest of the 48 victims and summed up months of evidence at court last week. 

She also praised the jury for reaching the decision the people were unlawfully killed in 1981. 

“They took attention to every single detail,” she said. “The reaction was the families [was] to pinch yourself, to say ‘is this true?’. 

“We’re actually getting the truth after 43 years.” 

Stardust Stardust survivor Antoinette Keegan. Image: Newstalk

Ms Keegan and other family members of the 48 victims are due to meet Taoiseach Simon Harris at Government buildings around 11am. 

She said the demand of herself and the others are simple – an apology. 

“I want the State to apologise for 43 years of systematic abuse they threw at those families,” she said. 

“The truth should have been told in 1981, it should have never have gone to tribunal inquiries. 

“We should have been allowed to go into court and take the normal procedures of a judicial case. 

“Our loved ones became insignificant to the Irish State – they were our loved, they were human beings. 

“It's time now for the State to realise the damage that it's done to our families.” 

The Stardust inquiries

The first inquiry into the Stardust fire took place 12 days after event and the fire was probably caused by arson. 

Justice Ronan Keane criticised Stardust management when it was discovered that some emergency exit doors had been locked on the night of the fire. 

The arson ruling was dismissed in 2009 due to lack of evidence, but Ms Keegan pointed out that at the time, an examination by Paul Coffey SC ruled it would be in the public interest to reopen the inquiry. 

It was not until 2019, after years of protests and campaigns, that the Attorney General confirmed that fresh inquests would be held into the deaths. 

The new inquest began last year and concluded this week. 

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