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Cabinet Approval Granted To Draft Legislation On Jury For Stardust Inquests.

The Minister for Justice, Mrs Helen McEntee has today received Government approval to draft legislative amendments to put in place bespoke supports for jury selection and summoning in the Stardust inquests.

Stardust Nightclub Fire 1981.

Readers will remember, in 1981, the tragic fire at the Stardust nightclub in Artane, north Co. Dublin, which resulted sadly in the death of 48 people and left some 214 persons injured.

The ages of those who were killed in the fire ranged from 16 to 26, and in 23 cases the deceased were the eldest and sole breadwinner for their families. Most of the dead came from Artane, Kilmore and greater Coolock, and half of the deceased were aged 18 years or younger, with four of the victims aged 16 years and eight aged 17 years.

It is intended that the legislation will be passed before the summer recess and enacted quickly, enabling the Coroner to commence the inquests in line with her proposed timeframe.

This will allow the Dublin Coroner to seek the assistance of the Courts Service in selecting a jury for the Stardust inquests and will allow the jury selection process to operate in a similar way to that civil and criminal court proceedings.

The legislation will also ensure that employers will continue to pay the wages of people summoned to serve on the Stardust inquests jury, similar to provisions for criminal and civil trial juries.

These supports are being provided for by the Minister to address the concerns raised by victims’ families, in recognition that the inquests may span a number of months, while also conscious of the principles underpinning jury service as a civic duty that must be carried out with impartiality and fairness.

These special jury provisions will apply only to the Stardust inquests given the extraordinary circumstances.

The Minister intends that all matters pertaining to coronial law will be considered in the review currently underway in her Department as set out in the Justice Plan 2022.

Following the Cabinet meeting, Minister McEntee said:

“The Government’s decision today allows for the urgent drafting of special provisions relating to the selection and summoning of jurors for the new Stardust Inquests.
In this regard, the Dublin Coroner will be entitled to request the assistance of the Courts Service in selecting and summoning a jury by ballot drawn from the Electoral Register.
I had promised to address the concerns raised, particularly by representatives of the Stardust victims’ families, with regard to the empanelling of a representative jury.
As the Stardust Inquests are anticipated to take some considerable time compared to other inquests, I am also making provision that employers would be required to pay the wages of employees summoned to serve on the Stardust Inquests jury”
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