Changes in Victims Charter to be named after Danielle McLaughlin

Varadkar apologised to mother of woman who was killed in India for lack of Government support

Danielle McLaughlin was found dead in a secluded spot in Canacona last year

Danielle McLaughlin was found dead in a secluded spot in Canacona last year

 

An amendment to the Victims Charter is set to be named after a Co Donegal woman who was killed in India, the Taoiseach has said.

Danielle McLaughlin (28) from Buncrana, was found dead in a secluded spot in Canacona, an area of Goa popular with holidaymakers, in March last year. Vikhat Bhagat (24) has been accused of the rape and murder of Ms McLaughlin.

She had been travelling in the country before heading to Canada to work as a teacher. Her mother Andrea Brannigan met Leo Varadkar in Derry last month to press the Government to do more to help her and other families who have lost loved ones abroad.

Ms McLaughlin had dual citizenship and had been travelling in India on her UK passport. When Ms Brannigan requested assistance from the Taoiseach’s office, she received a letter saying that as Ms McLaughlin was a UK citizen she would be better off contacting UK authorities.

Meeting

During the meeting at the Bishopsgate Hotel on September 11th, Mr Varadkar also apologised personally to Ms Brannigan after an official in his department initially redirected her to the British foreign office, because Ms McLaughlin had been travelling on a UK passport.

Within two weeks of the meeting, Mr Varadkar wrote a letter to Ms Brannigan detailing how his government plans to help her family.

It includes a proposal for a new amendment named after Danielle to the Victims Charter to include Irish victims of crime abroad.

Ms Brannigan said that so far the proposed actions remain promises.

Mr Varadkar outlined some of the actions he has taken since their meeting.

“I have asked the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD to fully examine your recommendations on amending the Victim’s Charter to include victims of crime abroad,” Mr Varadkar wrote.

“I have requested him to update me on this as soon as possible and suggested that any change could be framed as ‘Danielle’s amendment’ in her memory.”

Mr Varadkar also shared with Ms Brannigan a letter he has written to Mr Flanagan about this request.

Letter

In this letter the Taoiseach writes: “I am making this request following a meeting with Ms Andrea Brannigan who is the mother of Danielle McLaughlin who was tragically killed in Goa, India . . . having heard about their experience, I think this is warranted.”

Mr Varadkar also reveals that the Government will appoint its first resident Consul General in Mumbai, Gerry Kelly, with responsiblity for Goa.

“I have asked Noreen O’Sullivan, your assigned case officer at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to provide you with an update on this first visit, as soon as it is available,” Varadkar wrote.

Ms Brannigan said she was pleased but cautioned that “hopefully it’s carried out and not just talk”.

“There needs to be changes for families that lose someone abroad, they deserve the same support as families get when their loved one dies in Ireland, ” Ms Brannigan said.

“I believe Danielle’s amendment might help bring them changes, as a family we have had no support or financial help from the Irish embassy or the UK one, so it puts families in a position they have to look for that help themselves so they can’t grieve for their loved ones.”

The trial over Danielle’s murder started in India in April, and is still running.

Ms Brannigan said she hopes to travel to Goa when the accused is in the dock.– PA