Taoiseach Simon Harris Apologizes to Families of 1981 Stardust Nightclub Fire Victims

Taoiseach apologizes for 1981 Stardust fire tragedy, acknowledging unlawful deaths and committing to a formal Dáil apology, a significant step towards justice for victims' families after decades of denial.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Taoiseach Simon Harris Apologizes to Families of 1981 Stardust Nightclub Fire Victims

Taoiseach Simon Harris Apologizes to Families of 1981 Stardust Nightclub Fire Victims

Taoiseach Simon Harris has apologized unreservedly to the families of the 48 victims who were unlawfully killed in the 1981 Stardust nightclub fire in Artane, Dublin. The apology came after Harris met with over 70 survivors and relatives at Government Buildings on Saturday, in what he described as a "humbling and emotional" experience.

The meeting followed a recent inquest jury verdict that all 48 victims of the fire were unlawfully killed, overturning a previous finding that the fire was deliberately started. The families have long called for an official State apology and fought a 43-year battle for justice.

Harris stated that he will formally apologize on behalf of the State in the Dáil on Tuesday, where the names of the victims will also be read out. "I listened closely to the families and I will be delivering that apology on behalf of the State," he said.

Why this matters: The Stardust fire tragedy was the worst in Ireland's history, and the families of the victims have endured systemic abuse and a lack of accountability from the State for over four decades. The apology represents a significant step towards reconciliation and acknowledgment of the truth.

Survivors and relatives expressed hope that the apology would be robust, meaningful, and transparent. Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, who met with the families before their meeting with the Taoiseach, called for a "full, unequivocal, transparent apology" from the State, which she said had "actively and consciously denied truth and continues to deny justice" to the families.

The Stardust fire occurred on February 14, 1981, at the Stardust nightclub in Artane, Dublin. The blaze started due to an electrical fault in an airing cupboard, and factors like foam in seating, the height of an alcove ceiling, and carpet tiles on walls contributed to the rapid spread of the fire. In addition to the 48 deaths, over 200 people were injured in what remains the worst fire disaster in Irish history.

Key Takeaways

  • Taoiseach Simon Harris apologized to Stardust fire victims' families.
  • Inquest jury ruled 48 victims were unlawfully killed, overturning previous finding.
  • Harris to formally apologize in Dáil on Tuesday, read victims' names.
  • Stardust fire was Ireland's worst tragedy, families fought 43-year battle.
  • Fire started due to electrical fault, factors like foam contributed to rapid spread.