Jury to deliver verdicts in Stardust fire inquests

A jury will later deliver its verdicts in the inquests of 48 people who died in a nightclub fire in Dublin more than 40 years ago.

The foreman of the jury in the Stardust fire inquests told coroner Myra Cullinane on Wednesday that majority verdicts had been reached after 11 days of deliberation.

The coroner deferred the delivery of the verdicts until 2pm on Thursday to give family members of those who died in the tragedy time to gather at Dublin District Coroner’s Court.

Stardust nightclub fire inquest
Friends, supporters, and family of those lost people in the blaze, outside Dublin Coroner’s Court (Brian Lawless/PA)

The devastating blaze at the Stardust nightclub in Artane, north Dublin, broke out in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 1981.

The fresh inquests, which were directed by Ireland’s attorney general, have been the longest held in Ireland, with proceedings commencing one year ago.

On Wednesday, the foreman told Ms Cullinane that the jury’s seven women and five men could not reach a unanimous verdict.

The coroner then said she would accept a simple majority of seven and allowed the jury’s deliberations to continue.

Fifteen minutes later, the jury returned and confirmed it had reached majority verdicts.

Ms Cullinane said she would defer the announcement of the verdicts and findings to Thursday to allow interested persons and family members to make arrangements to attend court or watch online.

Speaking in Brussels on Thursday morning, Irish premier Simon Harris said: “I’m extremely conscious of the fact that this must be an extraordinarily difficult and emotional day for all of the families involved, people who have sought justice, answers and truth for such a long period of time.

“As Taoiseach, I certainly stand ready to interact and engage with those families once the outcome of the inquest comes through today, but let’s have that first out of respect for the families and their longstanding campaign for truth and justice.”

In the Irish parliament, Leaders’ Questions at noon began with Irish deputy premier Micheal Martin and Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty stating that their thoughts were with the families of those who died in the Stardust fire.

“They have waited, as we all know, four decades to answers to what happened to their loved ones at that time and they faced many, many obstacles including those put in their way by this state,” Mr Doherty said.

“I hope that the families involved today get those answers that they have been waiting for.”

“My thoughts and all of our thoughts are with the families of those who died in the Stardust tragedy in 1981,” Mr Martin said.

“This will be a huge moment for the families and indeed for the entire country because the Stardust tragedy is seared on the collective consciousness of the Irish people and the tenacity of the families and their success in securing this inquest has been a service to all in society.”