Stardust inquests: Taoiseach to meet families ahead of planned State apology in Dáil

Simon Harris said he was keen speak to families of victims this weekend ahead of expected statement on Tuesday

Taoiseach Simon Harris is expected to make an apology in the Dáil on Tuesday to the families of Stardust victims for the manner in which the State responded to the 1981 nightclub disaster.

Mr Harris will meet representatives of the families on Saturday morning to discuss the form in which a State apology would be made.

In a statement, the Government said: “The Taoiseach is eager to listen closely to the families. The Taoiseach has said he is conscious that these families have felt unheard for four decades, and his priority now is to hear directly from them.

“The Taoiseach has also spoken to the two coalition party leaders and members of the Opposition. The Taoiseach will seek to address the Dáil on Tuesday on Stardust. His priority, however, remains engagement with the families first.”


Speaking to reporters earlier, Mr Harris said: “I am very conscious that these families have been failed to be heard for decades. And I want to make sure that they know that I’m listening and that I want to hear them and of course I want to be in a position as Taoiseach to apologise on behalf of this country.

“I think the most appropriate thing to do is to seek to meet with them. I did speak to Antoinette Keegan [on Thursday] evening from Brussels and have offered to meet [on Saturday] if that works for them. But I am eager to be in a position to apologise to these families. But I think it’s right and proper that I meet them first.”

Sources said the State apology would be a formal one, once it is made, and the most appropriate forum for that would be to issue it in Dáil Éireann.

Asked if there would be a Garda investigation arising out of the jury’s verdict in the inquests that the 48 people had died as a result of unlawful killing, he said the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee would be referring the report of the coroner to the attorney general.

“There are a number of processes in different parts of the State that I think will need to consider the outcome of the coroner’s inquest yesterday.

“The gardaí will be reviewing the coroner’s report and that obviously happens independent of the Government and of the political system.

“I’m also conscious that my colleague, the Minister for Justice, will ask the Attorney General to consider reports from the coroner as well,” Mr Harris said.

“I feel very strongly that it is important at this stage to recognised the pain, the suffering, the trauma and the appallingly long time these families have had to work to campaign, and in many cases fight, for truth and justice,” he added.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times