A memorial service marked the 30th anniversary this week of one of Dublin’s most awful tragedies -- the Stardust disco fire on St. Valentine’s Eve when 48 young people lost their lives.
The families of those who died believe many questions remain unanswered about the blaze in 1981. They lit candles outside the building the Stardust once occupied.
Christine Keegan, who lost two of her daughters, said remembering the fire wasn't easy. She added, “It’s getting worse all the time; you don’t forget what you lost. But so long as I have life in my body, I’ll continue the campaign and I’ll get justice.”
The Stardust Victims’ Committee is hoping to present its case for a fresh investigation before the European Court of Justice later this year.
One of its main driving forces is Christine’s daughter, Antoinette Keegan, who was with her sisters, Mary and Martina, in the inferno. Her two sisters died but she survived.
The last thing Antoinette remembers was falling unconscious as she clutched her sisters’ hands.
She remembers, “Myself and my two sisters and two friends were pushed to the ground. We were on the floor and we were being pushed and we were all holding hands. We couldn’t breathe.”
Then she lost consciousness. Next she remembers being assisted into an ambulance and initially refusing to go because she remembered her sisters and friends were still inside the Stardust, but she was told everybody had been brought to hospital.
There followed a series of inquiries into the disaster and when a judge initially put the blame down to “probable arson,” Antoinette remembers her father suggesting the patrons were being blamed for the fire.
Antoinette remains convinced the family who owned the Stardust were to blame for taking short cuts, and Dublin Corporation and the Environment Department for giving them planning permission.
She says, “The whole lot were responsible for the deaths of my two sisters and all the rest of the victims.”
Antoinette told an RTE television program on Monday, “We feel it only happened yesterday. We feel that we have been forgotten. We feel that we have been abandoned. They are our brothers, our sisters, our loved ones.
“They had a right to life and their right to life was taken away and we will explore every single avenue until we get justice.”
The Stardust group wants a reinvestigation into the fire and they are preparing a case for the EU Court of Human Rights. They are also still demanding a public apology from the Irish state.