Inquest Jury Rules 48 People Unlawfully Killed in 1981 Stardust Nightclub Fire

Inquest rules 48 unlawfully killed in 1981 Stardust fire in Dublin, overturning previous arson conclusion. Families finally get justice after decades-long fight, paving way for state apology.

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Rafia Tasleem
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Inquest Jury Rules 48 People Unlawfully Killed in 1981 Stardust Nightclub Fire

Inquest Jury Rules 48 People Unlawfully Killed in 1981 Stardust Nightclub Fire

An inquest jury has ruled that 48 people were unlawfully killed in the 1981 Stardust nightclub fire in Dublin, Ireland. The verdict, delivered after a decades-long campaign by the victims' families, overturns the previous conclusion that the fire was "probably caused deliberately".

The fire broke out in the early hours of Valentine's Day 1981, claiming the lives of 48 young people aged between 16 and 27. The new inquest found that the fire started due to an electrical fault in the hot press of the bar, contradicting the 1982 tribunal's finding of probable arson.

Why this matters: The Stardust fire tragedy has been a long-standing issue for the affected families, who have been fighting for justice and truth for over four decades. The verdict brings closure and restores the dignity of the victims, while also highlighting the importance of thorough investigations and accountability in such disasters.

The inquest jury also determined that factors such as the flammable materials used in the club's construction, lack of visibility due to smoke, and obstructed emergency exits contributed to the high death toll. Some of the victims were impeded in their ability to exit the building due to locked or chained exits, which was a contributory factor in their deaths.

Families of the victims have welcomed the verdict, expressing relief and emotion at the outcome. They have called for an official state apology from the Irish government, saying they were ignored and disrespected for 43 years in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Simon Harris has said he is "eager to be in a position to apologize" to the families and plans to meet with them. He acknowledged that the families have felt unheard for decades and wants to apologize on behalf of the country.

The inquest, which lasted over a year, was the longest ever held in Ireland. It was a result of the families' persistent campaign for justice. Irish President Michael D. Higgins described the verdict as a vindication of their fight, while the Minister for Justice has said the government will discuss the possibility of a state apology.

The jury's verdict named all 48 victims of the Stardust fire and paid tribute to their lives. The families vowed to continue their campaign, stating that this day belongs to those who perished in the "horrendous inferno". "They were so young and barely had a chance to live," said Samantha Curran, whose mother Helena Mangan died in the fire when Samantha was just two years old.

Key Takeaways

  • Inquest jury ruled 48 people unlawfully killed in 1981 Stardust fire in Dublin.
  • Fire started due to electrical fault, overturning previous arson conclusion.
  • Factors like flammable materials, smoke, and obstructed exits contributed to high death toll.
  • Families demand official state apology, which the Irish government plans to issue.
  • Inquest verdict vindicates families' 43-year quest for justice and truth.