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01/25/2017 12:00:00 AM


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Broughan, Thomas P.

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Motions

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Establishment of Commission of Investigation into the Stardust Tragedy

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Motion [Private Members]

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Air Corps

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issues relating to

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Motions\Defence\Air Corps\issues relating to

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Motions\Establishment of Commission of Investigation into the Stardust Tragedy

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Establishment of Commission of Investigation into the Stardust Tragedy\Motion [Private Members]
Defence\Air Corps\issues relating to
Motions\Establishment of Commission of Investigation into the Stardust Tragedy
Motions\Defence\issues relating to\Air Corps

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Establishment of Commission of Investigation into the Stardust Tragedy

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Deputy Thomas P. Broughan

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Deputy Thomas P. Broughan

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TommyBroughan

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Thomas P. Broughan

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03/05/2018 10:36:10 AM

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Snippet Contents:

I thank my colleagues in Independents 4 Change, the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit, Sinn Féin and the Labour Party for supporting the call for an investigation into the Stardust tragedy under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004. I am disappointed by Fianna Fáil's response to the motion but even more disappointed by the response of the Government, particularly in the case of the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath. It was following a consultation process with the Stardust families that Mr. Coffey was appointed to conduct a new inquiry into the tragedy. Having considered all of the evidence and reviewed the Keane report transcripts, Mr. Justice Coffey definitively concluded, as my colleague, Deputy Boyd Barrett, illustrated in his contribution, that a commission of investigation was necessary.
I said on Leaders' Questions some months ago that the Department of Justice and Equality continued to stonewall on the clear and obvious need for the establishment of a commission of investigation under the 2004 Act. We have more of the same this evening. The private investigations that were carried out since the late 1990s show the Keane tribunal was profoundly mistaken in its conclusion, much crucial eye witness evidence was missed and there were serious shortcomings in the forensic examination by An Garda Síochána and the then Department of Justice. The body of research and new evidence presented by Ms Geraldine Foy, Mr. Robin Knox and others includes details of the use of inaccurate building plans in the Keane inquiry process, the existence of a store room with access to the roof loaded with inflammable cooking oil and aerosols, long-standing electrical and heating system safety issues, including arcing and overloading, earlier external sightings of the fire in the roof space from 1.30 a.m., the wave of heat from the ceiling felt by disco goers and staff, and new evidence pointing very strongly to ignition in the ceiling area. There is enough evidence there to bring a commission of investigation into existence. Deputy O'Callaghan emphasised the powers and modus operandi of such commissions. That is precisely what the people in my constituency want, namely, an investigative body which can ensure, at long last, that they will have justice, peace and closure.
I take the opportunity to pay warm tribute to Ms Antoinette Keegan, Ms Chrissie Keegan and their colleagues who have worked so hard, so diligently and for so long on this project for justice. Besides engaging in the collection of new evidence and their interactions with this House, they attempted, in late 2011, to bring the Stardust case before the European Court of Human Rights under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which concerns the right to life. The 48 victims of the Stardust tragedy were, they rightly claimed, denied the most fundamental right of all. The plaintiffs argued in the two cases against Ireland that the convention had been breached due to deficiencies in the investigation into the deaths. That case did not continue simply on time grounds.
On 23 June 2016, I again, during Leaders' Questions, raised the need for a commission of investigation. Once more, the Tánaiste engaged in a stonewalling exercise and repeated the mantra of a need for new evidence, notwithstanding all the important new facts that have been supplied. As several colleagues noted, those who attended the Stardust nightclub on that fateful night were almost all in the 18 to 25 age cohort, with the average age being 19. Now, 36 years later, they are in their mid-50s to mid-60s, while some other important witnesses are much older. The commission must be established as soon as possible in order that everybody can be heard again and we can finally achieve closure and justice. In response to a series of parliamentary questions tabled by me, the Tánaiste referred to the investigation by An Garda Síochána, which she described as complex, and emphasised that she could do nothing which might undercut it. However, the very existence of that investigation reflects the huge range of unanswered questions, unassessed and missed evidence, and the profound deficiencies of the Keane tribunal investigation. I asked the Tánaiste about the possibility of reopening the coroner's inquest into the deaths of the 48 young people, to which I received a standard reply that inquests were held in early March 1982 under the Coroners Act and pointing out that the coroner exercises quasi-judicial functions and that she, the Tánaiste, has no role in individual cases. In October last year, I wrote again to the Dublin City Coroner asking that the inquest be reopened and what information would be required in order to do so. Dr. Myra Cullinane stated in her reply: What are the circumstances in which the inquests could be reopened?
It is incomprehensible to me that we are still seeking justice and closure on this matter. In preparing for today's motion, I revisited my many files on the Stardust tragedy. When one reviews the timeline of events and the litany of instances of grievous treatment of the victims' families and subsequently the victims committee, one cannot help but feel great anger and frustration on their behalf. What we should all be feeling is empathy. If any member of our own families had been directly affected by this tragedy, we would react with great anger and determination. In October last year, the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, presented a submission to the Attorney General, Ms Máire Whelan, entitled "Insults towards the Stardust 48 Fatal Victims". There have been 36 years of insults to the 48 young people who lost their lives.