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Stardust redress scheme ‘appropriate’ – minister

The Minister for Finance has said it is appropriate that there will be a redress scheme for the families of Stardust victims, along with a commemoration for victims.

Micheal McGrath said that everything will be done in consultation with the families who have “too long been left out in the cold”.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Simon Harris apologised on behalf of the State to the families of the victims who died in the fire.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr McGrath said redress is not a priority for the families, but that he feels that such a scheme is appropriate.

He said the Government will give it priority because for many family members “time is not on their side”.

Michael McGrath said the work will involve a number of departments

He said the Government will prioritise efforts to ensure the coroner’s recommendations, a commemoration and a redress scheme are implemented.

However, Mr McGrath warned against putting a timeline on the work and giving commitments that cannot ultimately be delivered on.

There has been too much of that in the past, he said.

Mr McGrath said the work will involve a number of departments and it would most likely be led by the Department of the Taoiseach.

“We’ll all do whatever we can do, to help and to try and strip away any bureaucracy that normally might slow things down. This is an exceptional issue,” he said.

“Yesterday was an important day. 43 years on it’s a very, very long time.”

Mr McGrath said the way the Stardust families were treated is “a scar on our society” and yesterday’s apology cannot be a one-day event.

“It was important but cannot be the end,” he added.

Apology reaction

Antoinette Keegan said she was ‘actually really annoyed’ at two TDs’ Dáil addresses

Speaking on the same programme, Stardust survivor and campaigner Antoinette Keegan said she does not accept apologies from TDs Seán Haughey and Richard Bruton, who spoke in the Dáil after the State apology over the disaster.

Fianna Fáil TD Seán Haughey, whose father Charles was Taoiseach at the time of the fire, told the Dáil he had a “fraught” relationship with the Stardust committee.

“I genuinely believe that I consistently followed up any issue that the [Stardust] committee asked me to do. I raised various matters in the Dáil, I wrote to the relevant Ministers as requested.

“But if I’m honest though, this was not enough,” Mr Haughey said.

He added: “I also admit that my relations with the committee were at times fraught and I do regret that.

“I admit too that when Pat McCartan issued his finding in 2017, to the effect that no new inquiry was warranted, I could not see how the case could be advanced further.

“So, the decision to seek new inquests was an inspired one and I am in awe of the persistence of the families in that dark time to continue the fight.”

Fine Gael TD Richard Bruton said the initial determination of arson was a “further slap in the face to the families and to the victims themselves”.

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He said the sense of injustice fired these families throughout a very long struggle.

Mr Bruton said: “We who have represented them in the constituency have failed them. Your anger and frustration with politicians and with the system is amply justified.”

Antoinette Keegan said a lot of the families “were very annoyed and angry” yesterday.

She said she had contacted Mr Haughey a number of times over the years and was told “repeatedly” by his secretary that he would ring her back.

“As for Richard Bruton, he was going around canvassing and I asked him, what do we do now after Pat McCartan and he said there’s nothing more you can do.”

Ms Keegan added: “I actually was really annoyed yesterday with them doing that apology because that was just to look good for the public.”

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