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  • Northside East

Many tears shed at Stardust vigil

Monday, 17th February, 2020 8:00am

Story by Tony McCullagh
Many tears shed at Stardust vigil

Richard Hyland, an uncle of Stardust victim Caroline McHugh, places a rose at the scene of the new memorial that was unveiled at the site of the Artane tragedy.

Many tears shed at Stardust vigil

Richard Hyland, an uncle of Stardust victim Caroline McHugh, places a rose at the scene of the new memorial that was unveiled at the site of the Artane tragedy.

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JOURNALIST Eamon Dunphy found it impossible to hold back the tears when he addressed a gathering of Stardust families and their supporters in Artane last week - and he wasn’t alone.

Hundreds of people turned out for a vigil to mark the 39th anniversary of the nightclub tragedy last Thursday evening, including relatives of the dead, survivors and members of Dublin Fire Brigade. Former RTÉ correspondent, Charlie Bird, was one of the guest speakers, along with Eamon Dunphy and local Sinn Féin councillor Larry O’Toole, who was deputising for Dublin’s Lord Mayor.

Singer Christy Moore had been due to attend but was fighting a throat infection. He sent a heartfelt message of support to the Stardust families which was read out on the night by campaign spokesperson Antoinette Keegan. 

The vigil was held in a large marquee which had been facilitated by Dublin City Council’s Madeline Ebbs, who was warmly thanked by Ms Keegan for her help and support.

After the names of the Stardust victims were read out, there was a musical performance by the North Dublin Gospel Choir, which included a poignant rendition of U2’s ‘One’. Christy Moore may have been absent on the night but his spirit was captured by signer Eddie Sherlock with a stirring version of ‘They Never Came Home’.

An emotional Eamon Dunphy accused politicians of being “as hard as nails” and slammed the treatment of the Stardust families by successive governments.

Charlie Bird spoke of the night of the Stardust fire when he was dispatched to the scene as a journalist to cover the story. He repeated the widely held view that if the tragedy had happened on the Southside of the city, the families would have got justice a long time ago. 

Bird said that when he returned to the scene of the fire to make a documentary for RTÉ a few years ago, he was taken aback to discover that there was nothing at the site to commemorate the tragedy. 

This was put right later in the night when the broadcaster unveiled a large plaque on the building featuring the names of all 48 victims.

While each and every anniversary is a difficult time for the families, there was sense of optimism at last week’s event that they will finally get justice for the deaths of their loved ones with a new inquest set to be held in the near future.

Jimmy Fitzpatrick, Eugene Kelly, Madeleine Ebbs, Antoinette Keegan, Andrew Loughman and broadcaster Eamon Dunphy at the Stardust vigil in Artane last week. PHOTOS: DARREN KINSELLA Eamon Dunphy made a very emotional speech. Charlie Bird recalled how he reported on the tragedy in 1981.

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