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Statement by President Higgins following verdict of ‘Unlawful Killing’ at the Stardust Inquests

Date: Thu 18th Apr, 2024 | 16:42

“Today’s verdict at the Dublin District Coroner’s Court of ‘unlawful killing’ in the case of each of the 48 young people who lost their lives in the Stardust fire on the morning of 14 February 1981 is one that, while not bringing their loved ones back, is of the deepest importance for all those whose lives were so irreparably altered by that most appalling of days. Those who had, as relatives, to carry a terrible grief, made worse by questions left unanswered.

This afternoon’s verdict is a vindication of the fight of those relatives, a promise fulfilled, carried out over 43 long years, by the relatives, friends and community of the 48 young people, all aged between 16 and 27, who had their lives cut short on a night they had simply set out to spend and enjoy in the company of their friends.

The Inquests, which it must be remembered have only taken place due to endurance and tenacity in the insistence of their families never to give up and to have a conclusion as to fact, have provided for dignity and recognition, however late, being accorded to the lives of each of those 48 young people. Recognition as to the meaning of their lives, the significance of their relationships and friendships, and recognition of the devastating impact which their deaths had on the shared dreams and hopes of all those who cared for and loved them. 

Each of their lives has been so vividly remembered, recalled and honoured by their family members who presented such important portraits of their lives over the course of these Inquests.

Today’s findings have at last brought a conclusion as to the circumstances of their death: to the cause of the fire, to the factors which contributed to its spread, to the factors which impeded those who died in their ability to escape and to access and exit through emergency exits, by its ultimate verdict of unlawful killing. Findings which again have come about thanks to the tireless campaigning and work of those who cared most for the loss and appropriate memory of each of those who died.

I am very conscious that today will be a day of the deepest emotions for the loved ones of those who died. A day of vindication and of honour, but also a day of the deepest sadness and regret. I think in particular of those whose passing means this conclusion comes too late for them.

May I thank too the jury at the Inquests, who have given a year of their lives in one of the most important exercises of citizenship - the establishment of these most important of facts.

As President of Ireland, I congratulate each of the families for the outcome of their steadfastness in pursuit of justice in honouring the memory of those they cared most for on this most important of days.”