A preliminary hearing of the Stardust fire inquests in Dublin has been told the full inquests will now take place in the RDS Concert Hall in Ballsbridge, rather than the original planned venue of Dublin Castle.

The inquests are expected to formally begin next year.

In a second pre-inquest hearing this afternoon, coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said the inquest team had been advised by the Department of Justice that Dublin Castle would no longer be available for the hearings and that considerable effort had been made to source another venue.

Ms Cullinane said there had always been an understanding by the Coroner's Court of the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on the proceedings, particularly in light of the large number of families who wanted to access the inquests.

The coroner said she believed the new venue was comparable, if not superior, to the planned original location.

Forty-eight people died and more than 200 were injured when the blaze broke out in the Stardust nightclub in Artane, north Dublin, on St Valentine's Day in 1981.

New inquests into these deaths follow a decision in 2019 by the Attorney General that new inquests were in the public interest and in the interest of justice.

At this afternoon's preliminary hearing, the coroner expressed her condolences to the family and friends of Eugene Kelly, who recently passed away.

Mr Kelly's brother Robert was 17 when he died in the fire at the Stardust Ballroom. Mr Kelly, who died suddenly last month, has been involved in the campaign by families to have the inquests reopened.

This afternoon's hearing also discussed the provisional scope of the inquests which will look at the case of each person who died, where and when they died and the cause of their death.

Ms Cullinane said she also intended to look at the broader circumstances surrounding the deaths, including the response of emergency services and the cause of the fire, if possible. This would also involve a number of issues, including the condition of the building at the time of the fire.

Described as one of the largest losses of life arising out of one incident in the history of the State, the coroner has previously said the inquests are expected to be lengthy but will not be bound by any previous inquest finding.