Homily of Archbishop Dermot Farrell

In the readings for Mass this weekend Christians are reminded that we have no higher dignity and no greater joy than being children of a loving God. Yet over these days we have been moved once again by the suffering of the families whose children were unlawfully killed in the Stardust night club in the early hours of 14th February 1981 – and parents, brothers, sisters and friends – in one of the greatest disasters and tragedies of our time. The tragedy of this event was multiplied by the manner in which they were systematically and stubbornly denied truth and justice. 

Those who were unlawfully killed in the Stardust fire were a source of joy to their families and friends. The heart was taken out of those families and of their whole community in that unspeakable disaster. The courage and persistence of their search for truth and justice has been dignified and inspirational. Their solidarity with one another sustained a hope for truth that was otherwise denied them for so long. “The truth will set you free” (John 8:23). How do we recognise truth? We recognise truth by its capacity to heal broken lives and to help the families and communities to rebuild. The truth that emerged this week from the inquest enables families to deal with what happened in the inferno over four decades ago and puts them on a road to freedom. 

I know that for many, their Christian faith was sorely tested by the depth of their loss and grieving. Who could fail to be moved by the suffering, the weight of hurts and memories, festering for over 43 years now, of the families who lost 48 loved ones in the Stardust disaster, and of the more than 200 who were injured? So many families have endured enormous suffering, and through the fresh Coroner’s inquest re-lived the horror of that night which is seared into the hearts and memories of a generation. A whole community was traumatised in the horror of that dreadful night. The lives of so many have been blighted by the loss of those young people, who were so full of hope and promise. That grievous loss has been compounded by their long quest for a full and truthful account of the tragedy that satisfies their need for truth. 

In this Easter season Christians celebrate the victory of life over death, light over darkness. The Christian conviction of that truth is the source of our liberation. The resurrection of Jesus reminds us that in the face of persistent injustice, in the midst of darkness, something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces new fruit. It is an irresistible force. Due to the endurance and tenacity of their families the truth has finally set them free of a massive burden of the injustice and untruths that they have tenaciously fought to remove. We pray that the end of this long journey to the truth will bring a sense of peace for many, even though their mourning will not end. 

We ask to look kindly on the families of those who suffered such pain and loss. Grant them strength to endure the awful tragedy and the more than four long decades of pain and trauma, and grant each of us the grace to live our lives in holiness, free from all harm. As we pray for eternal rest for those who perished in the Stardust fire, and the family members who did not live to see these days, we pray also for those who will continue to carry the burden of their loss. Amen

+Dermot Farrell,
Archbishop of Dublin