Grieving mother of slain daughter demands Taoiseach apologise
‘I felt she was nothing ... That’s the way I have been treated by the Irish Government’
Danielle McLaughlin (28) was raped and murdered in India last year. Her mother wrote to the Taoiseach asking for a meeting. But she received a reply that it “was not possible and indeed probably not worthwhile” for her to meet Mr Varadkar.
Danielle (28), from Buncrana, was found dead in a secluded spot in Canacona, an area of Goa, India, in March last year. She had been travelling in the country before heading to Canada to work as a teacher. She was raped and murdered during Holi Festival celebrations at a beach resort.
Her mother, Andrea Brannigan, told Newstalk Breakfast that the family feels they have been “left to deal with this on our own”.
“We feel abandoned by our own government,” said Danielle’s sister, Joelene.
Ms Brannigan said that Danielle had lived in Buncrana from the age of two weeks, had voted in elections and it “hurt to have her heritage taken away”.
Danielle 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 Danielle was a UK citizen she would be better off contacting UK authorities.
“When we asked MPs for help they said she was Irish; when we asked TDs, they replied she was English,” said Ms Brannigan.
She said that following the court case via email had been “wildly distressing”.
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach has indicated he will meet Ms Brannigan when he visits the county on Tuesday.
Last week, Ms Brannigan wrote to the Taoiseach asking for a meeting. She wished to express her concern at the delay in the trial of the alleged murderer Vikat Bhagat in south Goa.
She received a reply on Friday morning from the Office of the Taoiseach saying it “was not possible and indeed probably not worthwhile” for her to meet Mr Varadkar, because his office claimed Danielle was not an Irish citizen.
The email advised her to contact the office of British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has since issued a statement clarifying that it was under the impression Danielle McLaughlin was a British citizen because she was travelling on a British passport.
The statement added: “This was the basis on which the office advised Danielle’s family that the matter would be most appropriately handled by the British authorities”. It said having clarified the facts the consular services of the department would be provided to her family as appropriate.
“The department sincerely regrets the misunderstanding that arose in this case.”
Ms Brannigan said her daughter was entitled to a British passport having been born in Glasgow, but had lived in Buncrana from when she was a baby. She was only travelling on a British passport because she had lost her Irish one.
Speaking to RTÉ News on Sunday, Ms Brannigan said she wanted an acknowledgement from the Taoiseach that her daughter was Irish.
“I was hurt. I found it very callous; I felt she was nothing, she wasn’t a person. That’s the way I have been treated by the Irish Government from day one,” she said. “I would like a written apology. I would also like them to acknowledge in writing that my daughter is Irish. That’s very close to my heart.”