Stardust protestors will ‘blast music’ and return to Department of Justice every day until inquest venue sorted

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Stardust protestors will “blast music” and return to Department of Justice every day until an inquest venue is sorted.

The inquest will be moving out of the RDS next month, and families will stage a protest outside the Department on Thursday.

The fatal fire took place at the Artane nightclub in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 1981, claiming 48 lives and leaving hundreds injured.

Antoinette Keegan, who lost her sisters Mary, 19, and Martina, 16, told Dublin Live that the lack of clarity over a venue is “an insult to the 48 lives lost” and their families.

Ms Keegan said that they have contacted Pearse Street Garda station to inform them that the families who lost loved ones in the Stardust intend to hold a demonstration on Thursday at 11am.

She said: “We’re not letting go until we have a venue, they have known since October that we are being kicked out of the RDS in February.

Stardust Fire 1974 (Image: Collins/Dublin)

“The Department is throwing excuse after excuse at us.

“We’re going to blast songs continuously throughout the day like They Never Came Home by Christy Moore outside the Department until they’re sick of it.

“We’re going to be there Thursday, Friday, and back again Monday and Tuesday for as long as it takes until we get a new venue.

“We have to do it because it’s an insult to the 48 people who lost their lives almost 41 years ago.

“We’re not sitting back, we are entitled to truth and justice. We want the truth and justice after 41 years for our deceased loved ones.”

In a letter seen by Dublin Live, Ms Keegan stated that due to recurring lockdowns “money is being wasted on an empty venue and not one inquest has been heard”.

She added: “I wish to inform you that this situation is totally unacceptable to the families, it is causing undue distress to us all.”

The aftermath of the fire in the Stardust nightlcub (Image: Collins/Dublin)

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said they recognise “this is a sensitive situation and would like to assure the families that it is committed to ensuring a new venue is in place to permit the inquests to be commenced by the Dublin coroner”.

They added: “The Minister also recognises the impact on everyone who attended that night and the impact on the local community and is committed to ensuring that the new inquests into the Stardust deaths and the families involved are provided with all relevant supports.

“The families can be assured that the matter is being actively worked on with the Office of Public Works, and the department intends that the situation will be resolved as soon as possible.

“The Stardust fire was a national tragedy that has left a particular legacy of pain for many people in north Dublin. The Minister offers her deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the 48 young people killed in the Stardust fire over 40 years ago.”

The new inquest into the fire tragedy has been mired in controversy and delays since its inception due to ongoing rows over funding.

Data released under a freedom of information request in September stated that the Department of Justice has spent €1.5m of the €8m allocated in total on the inquest, without one official inquest being heard.

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