Stardust inquests: Jury verdicts to be delivered on Thursday afternoon

Verdicts in longest-running inquests reached, after advice by coroner she would accept majority decisions


The jury in the Stardust fire inquests has reached verdicts, which will be delivered on Thursday at 2pm in Dublin coroner’s court.

The jury returned to the Pillar Room in the Rotunda hospital, where the court is sitting, shortly after coroner Dr Myra Cullinane told the seven women and five men jurors she would accept a majority verdict.

Dr Cullinane told the jurors delivery of the verdicts would be postponed to allow administrative procedures be completed and to enable families make arrangement to attend in person or to observe online.

The inquests into the deaths of 48 people, aged 16 to 27, as a result of a fire in the north Dublin nightclub in the early hours of February 14th, 1981, have been under way here since April last year. It is understood some families will travel from Donegal, Tipperary and Belfast to hear the verdicts.


The jury members were advised they were not to discuss the verdicts with anyone, and that to do so could be contempt of court.

After 10 full days of deliberations, Dr Myra Cullinane had called the 12-person jury shortly after 2pm on Wednesday and asked if they would be able to reach a verdict on which they all agreed. The foreman said: “No”.

She then advised them the 1962 Coroner’s Act allowed her to accept a majority verdict on which at least seven of them agreed. She asked they to withdraw and continue deliberations, advising them that if they were in a position to reach a verdict on Wednesday that they should alert the jury handler who would in turn inform her.

Earlier on Wednesday morning, the five men and seven women, through the foreman, told Dr Cullinane they were satisfied with answers she had provided to question they had posed on Tuesday afternoon. Theses centred around the factors they must consider in arriving at verdicts into the deaths of 48 young people in the 1981 nightclub fire disaster.

“We still have some issues that we need ironed out so still need time,” the foreman answered.

The jury, which was empanelled a year ago, is considering over 90 days of evidence from over 370 witnesses on the deaths of the 48 people in the Stardust fire.

They are tasked with establishing facts around the circumstances of the blaze, including whether issues such as carpet tiles which were used to line the internal walls, polyurethane foam in the seats and the low ceiling height in the area where the fire was first seen inside the venue, contributed to the deaths.

They must then also establish the identity of each victim as well as the date, place and cause of death, and finally return a verdict in respect of each. Five verdicts are available – accidental, misadventure, unlawful killing, open verdict and narrative.

When charging the jury last month, Dr Cullinane set out a “two stage test” the evidence must meet to conclude a victim’s death was unlawful killing. In addition to establishing “failure” by a person or people, who must remain unidentified and unidentifiable, they must establish the following.

“You must find that there has been a failure by a person or people, to a very high degree, to observe such a course of action as experience shows to be necessary if substantial injury to others is to be avoided,” she said. “And that such failure was a substantial cause of a death.” She also said they had to be satisfied ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.”

Three of the four questions posed by the jury on Tuesday centred around this “two stage test”.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times