339. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her views on the new evidence presented in relation to the Stardust fire tragedy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2634/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I met with the Stardust Relatives' and Victims Committee in July last year and this meeting provided an opportunity for me to hear their concerns at first hand. At that meeting the Committee and their representatives set out, in some detail, their concerns in relation to the Inquiries into this matter that have been undertaken previously and some related financial issues that have arisen. I indicated to the Committee that, while I am prepared to examine matters they wish to bring to my attention, I am anxious that no unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved are raised.
Following that meeting, I appointed an official in my Department to liaise with the Committee and he has engaged with the Committee and their representatives in relation to these matters. With regard to the question of any new evidence that might warrant the consideration of a further inquiry, two reports compiled by a researcher associated with the Committee were submitted to my Department since my meeting with the Committee. However, subsequently the researcher concerned requested the return of these reports and my Department complied with this request. My Department has, through the Stardust Relatives' and Victims Committee, requested that the decision to withdraw these reports be reconsidered. The Deputy will be aware that Mr. Paul Coffey SC was appointed in 2008 by the then Government, with the agreement of the Victims Committee, to review the case made by the Committee for a new inquiry into the fire. His report was published in January 2009. He concluded that the original Tribunal finding of arson was a hypothetical one only and that no-one present on the night can be held responsible. He further concluded that in the absence of any identified evidence as to the cause of the fire, the most another inquiry could achieve would be another set of hypothetical findings, which would not be in the public interest. The then Government accepted Mr. Coffey’s findings and motions were passed in both Houses of the Oireachtas endorsing his conclusions and expressing sympathy with the families.
I wish also to inform the Deputy that allegations raised by the Stardust Relatives' and Victims Committee and their representatives in relation to certain matters are the subject of an ongoing investigation by An Garda Síochána. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner, that this is a complex investigation and, as the Deputy will understand, I cannot do anything that might cut across this investigation.