Speaking in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD raised the issue of a call by families of victims of the Stardust tragedy for a new Commission of Investigation into the fire which killed 48 young people in Artane, Dublin in 1981.
Mr Adams asked the Taoiseach or Minister for Justice to address discrepancies between the report by Senior Counsel Paul Coffey, tasked with reviewing the Stardust affair, which was submitted to the Government, and the version of the Coffey report that was eventually published.
In his response to Gerry Adams, the Taoiseach said he would not commit to a new Commission of Investigation but if the solicitor for the families forwarded to him any new evidence, he would look at it.
Gerry Adams said:
“The original inquiry into the Stardust fire claimed that it was caused by ‘probable arson’. That finding has long been disputed by the families of the victims, by the people of this city and by others who have looked closely at the evidence.
“The families of a number of those who died in the Stardust have tasked various experts to review transcripts of the original inquiry into the case and they have come to a different conclusion.
“Taoiseach, the families of victims of the Stardust fire are seeking a new Commission of Investigation into this dreadful tragedy. The main basis for this is the report by Senior Counsel Paul Coffey, who was tasked by the previous government with reviewing the Stardust affair, and the Foy report commissioned by the families.
“Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has so far rejected calls for an inquiry into the Stardust tragedy.
“Taoiseach, will you meet the families of the Stardust victims to discuss their demands? Will you support the families in their search for justice over responsibility for the deaths of their loved ones? And will you establish a new Commission of Investigation, headed by an International Judge and other international experts/academics on fire safety/fire forensics, to look into this tragedy?”
The Sinn Féin Leader said that it was important to note that the Coffey Report on the Stardust tragedy, submitted to the government on 10th December, 2008 was not presented as a first draft or an interim report:
“This was clearly Coffey’s report with findings, conclusions and recommendations.
“However, according to the families of the victims, dozens of changes, some very substantial, were made to the report, after it was submitted to the Department of Justice.
“Coffey's terms of reference were limited but one area that he was asked to consider was whether or not a new inquiry was needed.
“In his report, sent to government on 10th December, 2008, on page 70, Section 5.13, Coffey states:
‘I further accept that a new inquiry is necessary if it is the only way of placing on the public record a finding that is based in evidence.’
“However, this recommendation is not in the published report of January, 2009.
“Taoiseach, if you cannot tell the Dáil today why this is the case, would you undertake to do so as soon as possible?”