Stardust fire survivor talks ‘positively’ with Taoiseach, unveils memorial to 48 youths killed

Stardust survivor and publicist Antoinette Keegan said she had a positive conversation with Taoiseach Michael Martin about the investigation into the tragedy.

Keegan, who survived the 1981 fire of 48 youth, including her two sisters, at the Stardust nightclub in Artane, said she told her that the jurors needed to pay for the investigation to proceed.

Unlike in criminal cases, the employer of the jury is not obligated to pay the coroner on the jury.

Speaking about his meeting with Taoiseach, the Stardust survivor told the Independent: “It was positive, he took my number and everything and asked to be contacted.

“We discussed some issues which are outstanding, we have the venue but we cannot proceed due to jury selection and jury payment.

“This is the biggest inquiry in the history of the state, it was done for free legal aid so that we can do this for it and get it investigated.

“I told him that legal aid has been amended so that everyone gets legal aid and the same can be done for jury payments. I said no one is going to sit on a jury for four to six months without any income. Is.

“It’s reassuring, he said he would look into it.”

Ms Keegan was speaking today outside the Richmond Education and Event Center, formerly Richmond Hospital, as two memorials were presented – one in honor of those who died of COVID-19 and one for the 48 victims of the Stardust tragedy.

Many of those injured in the February 14, 1981 fire were treated in the former hospital.

The benches were unveiled by Taoiseach Michael Martin, INMO President Karen McGowan and veteran broadcaster Charlie Bird.

The Taoiseach confirmed that he spoke to the families of relatives present yesterday and that he would convey his concerns to the Minister of Justice.

“I had a meeting with the relatives of those who lost their lives in Stardust regarding some aspects of the investigation and paneling of jurors and I will take them back to the Minister of Justice and take up some of the issues that arose,” he said. .

Mr. Martin narrated both incidents. The Stardust tragedy and COVID-19 reflect the centrality of frontline workers and first responders in our lives.

“Especially after the Stardust fire,” he said. “Many victims were treated here and many families who came here were welcomed.

“They still speak lovingly about the work done by the nurses and the way they are taken care of.

“Many families across the country are in debt to the nurses, midwives, doctors and health workers who took care of people during Covid. It is a very honorable memorial for those who lost their lives.”

Ms Keegan said it is still exhausting to demand justice for her two sisters 41 years after they lost their lives in the fire, and praised the bench designed by Irish artist Robert Ballagh.

She continued: “We really congratulate Phil nee Shegdha [INMO Secretary] And everyone involved in this unveiling because it’s beautiful and we’re really proud of it.”

Ms. Ni Shigdha said the organization was particularly pleased to be able to unveil the two benches on Valentine’s Day.

“I feel that today, on Valentine’s Day, we are able to unveil a memorial bench for the Stardust victims, and also for all those who have lost their lives during the COVID pandemic,” she said.

“Especially the health care workers and our own members who died while taking care of those infected with COVID-19.

“We think this is a small but important token that we mark today. We are delighted that the families of Stardust were able to join us and also that the Taoiseach of the country came and addressed both our members and the families of Stardust .

“We were reminded of your loss and it shaped us to be better nurses. We respect you and hope this shows you that we appreciate your loss.

“We respect our colleagues who have struggled to get things done during the pandemic and do it with respect.

“I’m proud of the Irish state and how we dealt with it. We did well. We lost our coworkers but not as many others, and we’re proud of that.”

Journalist Charlie Bird, who covered the Stardust tragedy and has been involved in the survivors’ campaign since 1981, got emotional at the ceremony as he said families are still fighting so hard for justice.

In a pre-recorded message he played on an iPad that uses technology to replicate his voice, Mr. Bird said: “I’ve said this many times before – if Stardust in any middle-class area of ​​this country. Tragedy happened, or indeed Dublin’s south side, we wouldn’t be here today, still trying to figure out what happened on that awfully cold February night.

“So after 41 years, you still haven’t got the answers and justice you deserve, and I’ll do whatever I can to help you as long as I can. I keep saying this. That’s really what I mean. You are the most remarkable group of people.”

The journalist, who has motor neurone disease that affects his voice, thanked all the nurses present at the ceremony as they said they saved his life.