Details of Stardust redress scheme announced with barrister appointed to mediate

‘Two-phased’ approach will see payment in respect of victims followed by phase for survivors

Survivors, families, friends and supporters following the Stardust inquest verdict earlier this year. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Details of a redress scheme for survivors and families bereaved by the 1981 Stardust disaster in which 48 people, aged 16 to 27, died have been announced.

Sara Moorehead, SC, a barrister specialising in mediation, professional negligence and insurance law, has been appointed to engage on behalf of the State with the 45 families’ legal representatives.

The development comes after a week of contacts between families and Taoiseach Simon Harris over redress.

The issue emerged as a potential stumbling block to a remembrance event on Sunday for those who died in the north Dublin nightclub in the early hours of February 14th, 1981, as a result of a fire.


In a memo to the families on Friday evening, seen by The Irish Times, Mr Harris said there would be a “two-phased approach” to the engagement on redress.

Phase one would deliver “a single, non-scaled ex gratia payment in respect of each the 48 victims of the fire” and phase two would be an “exceptionality phase for survivors of the fire in special circumstances”.

Next Thursday, Ms Moorehead will begin engagement with the legal representatives of the families, either their solicitor or nominated counsel, and “will aspire to reach agreement on phase one by [the] end [of] July, 2024″, the memo says.

“When agreement has been reached on phase one, a memorandum will be brought to Government to note and approve the settlement and engagement will commence on phase two,” the memo concludes.

Antoinette Keegan, a veteran campaigner and survivor of the blaze who lost sisters Mary (19) and Martina (16), welcomed the development.

“Simon Harris is the only Taoiseach who has stood by us and kept his word in 43 years. We have a State apology, redress and the Stardust will be on the school curriculum,” Ms Keegan said.

“We can look forward now to Sunday. It will be an emotional and important day for the victims and the families.”

Inside the Stardust: How tragedy unfolded at a Valentine’s disco in Dublin on Friday, February 13th, 1981Opens in new window ]

The remembrance event, which will be led by President Michael D Higgins, will get under way at noon in the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin, metres from the Pillar Room on the campus of the Rotunda Hospital where in April an inquest found all 48 victims had been unlawfully killed.

Mr Harris will host Sunday’s event and lead Government attendees. It will include musical performances by Christy Moore, violinist Zoe Conway, uileann piper Kevin Rowsome, and the Dublin Fire Brigade band, with prayers led by Father Joe Jones, formerly of Bonnybrook Parish, and a reflection by author Roddy Doyle.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times