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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 28 Oct 1992

Vol. 134 No. 6

Adjournment Matters. - Matters of Concern to Members.

I wish to raise the current position in relation to the Stardust Memorial Park. I am shocked and disappointed at the decision of the Department of the Environment not to make further funding available for the completion of the Stardust Memorial Park in Coolock.

In May 1991 discussion between the then Taoiseach, the Stardust Victims's Committee and Dublin Corporation concluded with a decision to construct a 25 acre park at Adare Road, Coolock, including a suitable memorial for the 48 victims who died, so tragically, in the Stardust fire in 1981. It was agreed that the project would be financed from national lottery funding and would involve two allocations of £100,000 in 1991 and 1992 and a further allocation of £50,000 in 1993. Dublin City Council fully supported the project and to date £100,000 has been provided to Dublin Corporation.

The Stardust Victims' Committee have fought a long and difficult battle. They lobbied to secure adequate compensation for the families of those killed and injured in the fire. They campaigned to ensure that the sensitive nature of the Stardust site itself would be respected at all times and they sought to make sure that another Stardust fire never happens. The last item on their agenda was the provision of a suitable memorial. It is totally unacceptable that the committee have had to fight every step of the way for their rights and for their entitlements.

I am extremely angry at the situation which has now developed. It is the worst of all possible worlds. Given that there is now a doubt that the project will be completed, it would have been better if it had never been initiated. The families have every right to feel upset and aggrieved at what has happened. Work undertaken at the site to date is now deteriorating and it would seem that public moneys have been wasted. I appeal to the Minister for the Environment to retrieve the situation at this stage and to make adequate funds available from the national lottery for the completion of the Stardust memorial park as soon as possible.

The families of the victims simply want to get on with their lives. They and the Stardust Victims' Committee are tired of fighting but are determined to achieve their final objectives. I fully support them in that regard.

I would like to raise a matter which has been of concern to me since last August. I call on the Minister for Justice and the Government to introduce legislation to ensure that adopted children have inheritance rights equal to those of children born within marriage.

A High Court decision last August prevented two adopted children from inheriting their father's farm. This is against the thrust of recent legislation which sought to ensure that adopted children and non-marital children have equal rights with children born within marriage. I request the Government to act immediately to correct the situation and give adopted children and their parents peace of mind with regard to inheritance.

Nearly 40,000 children have been adopted in the last 30 years. Many of them will be disinherited by wording of wills where the word "issue" is used to refer to children. The High Court has excluded adopted children from benefit from wills where the word "issue" is used.

It is important that the legislation I request should be made retrospective to cover cases in wills already completed. The word "issue" is still being used by the legal profession in formulating wills today. This is not something which occurred only in the past, it is current. As a matter of urgency, the Government should correct the situation in the interests of maintaining the thrust of recent legislation which gives adopted children rights equal to children born within marriage.

The Seanad adjourned at 8.35 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 29 October 1992.