On Tuesday morning I attended a board meeting of the Coolock Development Council, of which I am a member. At 11am that morning, I joined with hundreds of others as we walked with the Stardust Relatives’ and Victims’ Committee from Westland Row to the Attorney General’s office on Merrion Street. I carried one of the boxes which contained one thousand signed ‘Truth’ postcards and helped deliver the 48,000 postcards to the Merrion St. Later that afternoon, during Leaders’ Questions, I asked the Taoiseach if he will instruct the Attorney General to open a new inquest into the tragic deaths of 48 young people on the night of the 14th of February 1981. I welcomed news that the Attorney General, Seamus Wolfe, is awaiting the official papers to be served and will examine them once received.
At 11 a.m., a large number of us marched to the Office of the Attorney General, Mr. Seamus Woulfe, to deliver an astonishing 48,000 signed postcards asking for a new inquest into the Stardust tragedy of 14 February 1981. Those 48,000 signatures are the culmination of the heroic Truth campaign begun by the Stardust Relatives and Victims Committee, which has been courageously led over the years by Ms Antoinette Keegan, her mother Chrissie, Ms Gertrude Barrett, Ms Bridget McDermott and Mr. Eugene Kelly. I welcome them all to the Public Gallery today. We were accompanied by some distinguished Irish citizens, including the great musician Christy Moore, famous journalist Charlie Bird and many others. I commend our Sinn Féin colleagues and especially Ms Lynn Boylan, MEP, on her Trojan work with the committee on this campaign.
This morning, Tuesday the 20th of November, Deputy Broughan joined with members of the Stardust Relatives and Victims Committee, singer Christy Moore, journalist Charlie Bird and other supporters to deliver 48,000 signed postcards to the Attorney General. The group met at 11am on Westland Row and walked to the Attorney General’s office to hand over the astonishing number of postcards from members of the public calling for a new inquest in to the Stardust Tragedy of February 1981.
On Monday night, I was featured in the RTÉ Investigates programme ‘Law and Disorder’ speaking about the application of our road safety laws. On Tuesday afternoon I asked the Minister of State for Defence, Paul Kehoe, on personnel gaps in our Defence Forces. I also attended the Budgetary Oversight Committee where we were discussing Local Property Tax and Excise Duties for 2018 to 2020. Later that evening I spoke on the Electoral (Amendment) (Dáil Constituencies) Bill 2017 which retains almost all of the existing Dublin Bay North constituency (except the small Drumcondra South Electoral Area).
Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: I thank the Ceann Comhairle for this brief opportunity to speak on this important matter. The 37th anniversary of the Stardust tragedy will be on 14 February 2018. The horrific inferno on that night stole the lives of 48 of our young people and left 214 others injured. It occurred in a dance hall with chained and blocked exits. Earlier this week, journalist Charlie Bird brought us back to that terrible night in an RTÉ documentary in which we witnessed again the enduring distress of the victims and their relatives.
Deputy Broughan has today expressed his disappointment with Judge Pat McCartan’s decision not to recommend a Commission of Investigation into the Stardust Tragedy of 1981. In January of this year, Deputy Broughan brought a motion to Dáil Éireann calling for the establishment a new Commission of Investigation into the inferno which took 48 young lives on St. Valentine’s Night almost 37 years ago. Deputy Broughan’s motion was supported by Independents4Change, People Before Profit, Solidarity, Sinn Féin, the Labour Party, the Social Democrats and other left Independents. Minister of State Finian McGrath, despite supporting the Stardust Relatives and Victims’ Committee during his political career, turned his back on the families who lost loved ones and instead supported the Government’s amendment to the motion which led to Judge McCartan reviewing evidence and making his recent recommendation that no new Commission is needed.
Deputy Broughan today received information from Minister of State, Finian McGrath on the contact details for Judge Pat McCartan for the duration of his review of evidence pertaining to the Stardust Tragedy. If you wish to contact Mr Justice McCartan the details are as follows:
Up until Monday night of this week it looked as if the motion calling for the immediate establishment of a Commission of Investigation would be passed by the House. We have a letter, dated the 27th of March 2014, from Deputy Micháel Martin to Antoinette Keegan of the Stardust Relatives’ and Victims’ Committee stating that Fianna Fáil would back the call for a Commission. Antoinette had also been liaising with Deputies in the lead-up to this motion calling on their support. Minister Finian McGrath has also, of course, been a supporter of the Committee’s campaign for justice and answers and as recently as the 31st Dáil we shared a Topical Issues Debate on the need for such a Commission. Last week I received reports that the motion was causing friction in Government as Minister McGrath wanted to support it.
I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for the opportunity to bring forward this motion calling for the establishment of a commission of investigation into the Stardust tragedy of 1981. In two weeks’ time, we will mark the 36th anniversary of the horrific night which saw 48 young people die and a further 214 seriously injured in a fire in the infamous Stardust Ballroom in Artane, Dublin 5, early on St. Valentine’s Day 1981. It was the worst fire disaster in modern Irish history and continues to profoundly affect many families in several parishes of my constituency of Dublin Bay North down to the present day. This is why we are here again tonight asking for a fresh investigation, for justice and for the possibility of closure for the families and friends of the tragic victims.
With the approaching 36th anniversary of the tragedy of the fire on Valentine’s Day at the Stardust nightclub, Artane, Deputy Tommy Broughan will next week in Dáil Éireann renew his calls for a Commission of Investigation. The fire in the Stardust Ballroom, that infamous night, led to the deaths of 48 young people with a further 214 seriously injured. It was the worst fire disaster in modern Irish history and continues to profoundly affect many families in several parishes of Deputy Broughan’s constituency of Dublin Bay North down to the present day. Deputy Broughan is bringing forward this motion to ask, finally, for closure for those families and communities affected through a short, cost-effective Commission of Investigation under the 2004 McDowell legislation.