Government continues to stonewall Stardust families - Senator Lynn Boylan
Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan called on the government to urgently sign regulations to end barriers preventing Stardust families from accessing legal aid.
Senator Boylan raised the issue today at commencement matters in the Seanad.
Neither the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, nor the Minister of State for Justice, James Browne, were available. Minister of State Frank Feighan stood in for them.
Senator Boylan said:
“It is deeply disappointing that no one from the Department of Justice could show up to give answers to the Stardust Families. They need answers on how they can access legal representation for the upcoming inquest.
“The families are being means tested for free legal representation and are now being asked for PPS numbers, payslips, and bank statements. After all that they have been through, it is completely inappropriate.
“The Department for Justice was repeatedly warned that the legal aid route was not fit for the purpose of inquests. The families should have been automatically eligible as was the case with Hillsborough and Ballymurphy.
“There is a solution. The Legal Aid Act allows for a financial waiver but there has never been a statutory instrument to give it effect.
“This government is no stranger to emergency measures, but it seems the families of the Stardust are always at the back of the queue when it comes to how the State treats them.
“The families are in despair. Today they were again given the stock response ‘the Attorney General is looking at it.’
“They have been given no timeline on when this will be resolved. They have waited 40 years for justice. We’ve already lost a number of relatives of the Stardust Victims in the last year. They can’t wait any longer."