Families of Stardust fire victims to campaign for fresh inquest in Derry

The interior of the Stardust nightclub after it burned down in 1981.
The interior of the Stardust nightclub after it burned down in 1981.

The families of those who died in Ireland’s worst ever fire disaster are to bring their campaign for a fresh inquest to Derry.

Forty eight young people, including Derry teenager Susan Morgan, from Carnhill, died in the popular Stardust nightclub in Artane, Dublin, on February 14, 1981.

Families and supporters manned stalls in Dublin and Wexford recently asking for signatures on postcards calling for a fresh inquest into the deaths.

The postcards will be presented to the Attorney General in Dublin.

The campaign group have set a target of 48,000 signatures - 1,000 for every victim who died in the Dublin northside tragedy.

Antoinette Keegan, who survived the fire but lost her two sisters, Mary (19) and Martina (16), said the families would never give up campaigning.

“We had great support today in Finglas, not one person walked past without signing, people had driven out of the way to come and sign a postcard,” she said.

“It’s absolutely fantastic, the support has been great.

“We’ll be travelling to Belfast and Derry soon to campaign there, too.

“We’re at around 32,000 signatures now, we haven’t got long to go.

“We’ll be at a festival in Lucan next week and we’re expecting a big bump from that, too.

“If the Attorney General doesn’t do anything, or won’t do anything, we have an application ready to go in for a new inquest under the Coroners Act, and the law has to be applied.

“Either way, we’re not going anywhere, we’re going to carry on, we’ll never stop.”

Officials originally ruled that the cause of the fire was arson, a theory that was never accepted by the families.

It was later ruled out following a fresh inquiry in 2009.

Investigations into the fire showed that a number of escape routes from the dance hall were blocked as emergency doors were locked by chains.

The suggestion that the fire was started deliberately caused much anger and indignation among bereaved families who believed it cast suspicion of criminal wrongdoing on everyone who was in the Stardust on the night of the fire.

An Irish Government commissioned independent examination in 2009 concluded that the arson finding was hypothetical and that none of those present at the Stardust nightclub could be held responsible for the blaze.