The new inquests into the deaths of 48 people in the Stardust nightclub fire in Dublin over 40 years ago will begin on 19 April.

The start date was confirmed to the families of those who died in the blaze at the 17th pre-inquest hearing, which was held this afternoon.

Dublin District Senior Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane also announced that a jury would be empanelled two days earlier on 17 April.

A further pre-inquest hearing has been scheduled for 8 February to finalise details ahead of the commencement of the inquest.

The fire occurred at the Stardust Ballroom in Artane in the early hours of 14 February 1981 during a Valentine's Day disco.

Speaking after today's hearing, Antoinette Keegan, who lost her sisters Mary and Martina in the blaze, said she was in shock as the families "didn't expect a date to be confirmed today".

She said getting the confirmation of the start date "was like having a weight lifted off our shoulders".

Ms Keegan described it as a positive development and she said the families "can now move forward".

In 2019, the then attorney general ordered the new inquest into the deaths of the 48 victims.

At a previous pre-inquest hearing, Dr Cullinane said more than 300 witnesses were listed to be called to give evidence.

Ms Keegan said a candlelight vigil is due to take place on 11 February to mark the 42nd anniversary of the fire.