It was the most horrific week that Dublin has ever known.Day after day of funerals. Numbed relatives and friends having to bid farewell to loved ones even before they’d been able to process the shock.
The shock of that night in the Stardust in the early hours of February 14, 1981, when 48 people lost their lives.
READ MORE: Relatives vow to get justice for Stardust victims and 'do them proud'
It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow and we could throw in a trite line about the anniversary always bringing the pain back to the bereaved.The reality is different. It’s been with them every day, every week, every hour since that terrible night.
It’s important to remember how badly the relatives and survivors were treated by Official Ireland.
A week after the fire, the last eight victims were laid to rest. Six of them could not be identified.
At that last funeral, two Fianna Fáil politicians made their way up the middle aisle of the church and squeezed themselves into the front row.
A row reserved for the families of the victims. Even, with the benefit of 43 years to mull it over, it’s impossible to comprehend that kind of ignorance.
Dozens of those who survived had serious, life-changing injuries.
In the immediate aftermath of the fire, medical cards were issued to the survivors. Within a couple of years, many of them had been withdrawn. Another cruel and callous kick in the teeth from Official Ireland.
Because of their injuries, dozens of victims were unable to work. The government’s response was hard to fathom. A 20-year-old with no training or experience was given the brief of dealing with claims for unemployment and disability benefit.
In his own words, that 20-year-old — Tom O’Meara — was expected to be ‘’a priest, psychologist, social worker and general helpers’’.
A year ago, I wrote about Stardust and, shortly afterwards, got a message from Paul Gallagher, who used to play with a Donegal band called Pluto.
He told me that Pluto supported The Drifters at the Stardust in November, 1979, and he remembered the exit doors being padlocked.
The Stardust inquest proceedings will draw to a close shortly, with the next hearing on Thursday. It’s been a long wait for justice. It needs to be done.
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