Fianna Fáil minister puts emphasis on future after Stardust families’ criticism

Fianna Fáil Minister Puts Emphasis On Future After Stardust Families’ Criticism
Stardust nightclub fire inquest, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

A Fianna Fáil minister has put an emphasis on the future for Stardust families and survivors after former taoiseach Charlie Haughey’s son was criticised for his Dáil statement.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien was asked about his party colleague Sean Haughey’s statement in the Dáil on Tuesday about the Stardust families’ quest for justice.


Charlie Haughey was taoiseach at the time of the Stardust fire and commissioned the tribunal of inquiry led by Mr Justice Ronan Keane that concluded the cause of the fire was probably arson.

Stardust nightclub fire inquest
A verdict of unlawful killing has been returned by the jury of the Stardust Fire inquests for all 48 people who died in the 1981 Dublin nightclub disaster (PA)

Families felt the 1981 inquest was rushed.


The verdict was overturned in 2009 when it was concluded there was no evidence to support it.

Speaking on Tuesday outside Leinster House, Antoinette Keegan said that the Stardust families were annoyed that Mr Haughey spoke in the Dáil after the State apology.

“He shouldn’t have spoke. A lot of the families are annoyed about him speaking.

“His father interfered in our judicial rights. I know it’s nothing to do with Sean, but it caused us a lot of pain. We should have had our day in court. We should have been able to pursue it, but we were left in limbo when Justice Keane came back with arson. We had nowhere to go.”


Stardust nightclub fire inquest
Stardust survivor Antoinette Keegan, who lost her two sisters Mary and Martina, said that Sean Haughey should not have spoken in the Dail following the State apology (Brian Lawless/PA)

She added: “It would be no harm for him (Sean Haughey) to apologise.”

Sean Haughey told the Dáil that the 1982 Keane tribunal report’s finding that the cause of the Stardust fire was probably arson was “incredibly insensitive and was very wrong”.


He criticised the “hierarchical society” in place in Ireland during the 1980s and said he now felt the work he did as a local politician to represent the Stardust victims’ committee “was not enough”.



“I also admit that my relations with the committee were at times fraught. I do regret that. I admit too that when Pat McCartan issued his finding in 2017 to the effect that no new inquiry was warranted I could not see how the case could be advanced further.

“The decision to seek a new inquest was an inspired one and I am in awe of the persistence of the families at that dark time to continue the fight. They did so with determination and great dignity.”

Fianna Fail Ard Fheis 2024
Darragh O’Brien apologised in the Dail on Tuesday on behalf of the Fianna Fail party and said that everyone was looking to the future (Damien Storan/PA)

Mr O’Brien, who apologised in the Dáil on Tuesday on behalf of the Fianna Fáil party, said that successive governments had let the Stardust families down.

“In relation to Deputy Haughey, as any deputy, he put forward his views and his regrets as well that his relationship wasn’t better with the Stardust families at certain parts, and ended up at certain stages being fraught,” he said on Wednesday.

“I think for everyone, yesterday was really about us looking to the future as well, how we can, as the Taoiseach rightly said, assist further in helping the healing process.

“Now that the families, rightly so, are vindicated and the victims are vindicated, how we can support them and how we can ensure that this never happens again.”

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