Stardust verdicts: Prospect of fresh Garda investigation significantly increases

Any new inquiry after inquest verdicts of unlawful killings would be largest multiple homicide investigation of modern era

The prospect of a fresh Garda investigation into the Stardust disaster has significantly increased following the inquest verdicts that the 48 victims who died in the blaze in Artane, north Dublin, in 1981, were unlawfully killed.

If a new criminal inquiry into the unlawful killings commenced it would be the largest multiple homicide investigation in the modern era.

The Garda was now due to assess the report drawn up by the coroner following the conclusion of the inquest process yesterday. The Irish Times understands this assessment would determine whether offences were disclosed in the report and whether a fresh criminal investigation was required.

The assessment, sources added, would also determine the likelihood of progress being made by a new criminal investigation based on any new information available, or new lines of investigation to pursue, arising from the inquest. However, the same sources stressed no new criminal inquiry was under way following the verdicts, adding the prospect of such an investigation was just one outcome when the report had been assessed by the Garda.


It emerged publicly for the first time yesterday, after reporting restrictions lapsed, that former Stardust manager Eamon Butterly made a High Court application shortly before the jury began its deliberations. Just before Easter weekend, Mr Butterly sought permission to bring judicial review proceedings challenging decisions made by the coroner to allow the jury to return a verdict of unlawful killing. Mr Justice Tony O’Connor refused Mr Butterly’s application.

Mr Butterly did not answer calls by The Irish Times at his home in Malahide, north Dublin, last night.

Speaking in Brussels following news of the verdicts, Taoiseach Simon Harris said it was not for him to say whether the verdicts of unlawful killing would result in a new criminal investigation by the Garda.

“But I am aware that the gardaí will of course consider the outcome of the inquest today and it will be a matter for the gardaí to consider what steps they believe they must now take,” he said. He had asked the Minister for Justice and the Attorney General to consider the inquest findings and advise the Government on their implications shortly.

In reply to queries, Garda Headquarters said it was aware of the jury’s verdict at the Stardust inquest. “An Garda Síochána will now await the Coroner’s report on the matter. The thoughts of all in An Garda Síochána are with the families of the victims, as well as the survivors of the Stardust tragedy.”

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times