Valentine’s day 1981 is a day that will never be forgotten amongst the working class of Dublin. Today is the anniversary of the Stardust fire in that took the lives of 48 young people. More than half of them 18 years old or younger. This event has impacted upon generations; the families who lost loved ones, first and foremost; the working-class communities of Coolock, Artane and Santry, where most of the victims and survivors lived; and, the wider working class in Dublin. Young people from all over Dublin had been to gigs and functions in that converted jam factory.
What will also never be forgotten is the fact it has taken 42 years for the families to get justice. On the 18th April this year, 42 years after the fire, the inquest into their deaths will finally open. With echoes of the Hillsborough disaster families had many battles to get this far in their fight to get justice for their loved ones. Many of the parents of victims have since died and the next generation have continued that fight.
The first enquiry in 1981 found that the fire was caused by arson. It was not until 2009 following a long campaign that a reopened inquiry found that “The cause of the fire is not known and may never be known. There is no evidence that the fire started deliberately”. Yet due to the original arson finding, the Butterly family, who owned the venue, were awarded Ir£ 580,000 in compensation. This despite evidence that fire exits were chained up and windows locked with grills welded on. Yet, the owners of the Stardust never faced charges for breaches of fire safety regulations.
Militant Left sends solidarity to the Stardust families who will face a difficult time in the weeks to come and salutes their inspirational campaign.