'Tireless' Stardust families’ campaigner Eugene Kelly passes away aged 62

69

Eugene Kelly, a “tireless” campaigner for the victims of the Stardust tragedy has passed away aged 62.

ugene, whose 17-year-old brother Robert died in the horrific blaze, had campaigned most of his life for a fresh inquest into the tragedy in which 48 people lost their lives in the nightclub fire in 1981.

Eugene passed away suddenly at home last week.

Fellow campaigner and Stardust survivor Antoinette Keegan, who lost her sisters Mary and Martina in the blaze, paid tribute to Eugene and described him as “dogmatic” and “determined,” saying the late campaigner was like a part of her family.

“He stood tall, stood his ground and he was never going to give up. We’re totally in shock. For his family and grandchildren, we’re all thinking of them. They are obviously very upset.

“We didn’t think that Eugene would be gone a week after the Coroner’s preliminary hearing.

“He had a huge impact on the campaign. There were times when he would give me the strength to keep going. He was dogmatic in his attitude and if he wasn’t getting anywhere with the Department of Justice, he would just go in and do a sit-in protest until he got what he wanted. Eventually we get the documents and then we’d leave.

“Right to the very end, he said, ‘I am going nowhere and I will fight to my last breath’, him and my mother, and unfortunately the two of them are no longer here as they were the two strongest campaigners.”

Antoinette’s mother Christine passed away three months ago and she has vowed, alongside her family, to keep campaigning on behalf of the victims and in honour of Eugene and her late mother.

48 new inquests are due to begin next year in an attempt to determine the wider circumstances that led to the tragedy.

“My family knew what Eugene did for the campaign, but also for my family and my mother. He’d collect her and bring her to meetings and places she needed to go. He was like a part of our family. My family saw that, and since he has passed away, they have promised to take up the work he did in his honour,” Antoinette said.

Eugene is survived by his partner Martha, children Stuart, Mandy and Lyndsey, grandchildren, wider family and a large circle of friends.

Online Editors

Source: Irish News