Taoiseach apologises in person to mother of Danielle McLaughlin

Leo Varadkar had ‘constructive’ meeting with family of young Donegal woman murdered in India

Danielle McLaughlin (28) from Buncrana in Co Donegal, was found dead in a secluded spot in Canacona, an area of Goa popular with holidaymakers, in March last year.

Danielle McLaughlin (28) from Buncrana in Co Donegal, was found dead in a secluded spot in Canacona, an area of Goa popular with holidaymakers, in March last year.

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has personally apologised to the mother of a Co Donegal woman who was murdered in India, after his department was initially reluctant to assist because she had been travelling on a UK passport.

Andrea Brannigan and her daughter Jolene met Mr Varadkar on Tuesday evening in Derry.

Mr Varadkar described the meeting as “constructive” and said the Department of Foreign Affairs is now assisting the family of Daniell McLaughlin.

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. 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 requested a meeting with Mr Varadkar to discuss how families could be better supported when a loved one dies abroad. She also wished to express her concern at the delay in the trial of the alleged murderer Vikat Bhagat in south Goa.

But Ms Brannigan said she was told by government officials it was “probably not worthwhile” as her daughter was not an Irish citizen.

The mother was advised to contact British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt.

In a statement, the Department of Taoiseach said officials “incorrectly concluded” Ms McLaughlin was a British citizen as Ms Brannigan said she was travelling on a UK passport. They apologised to Ms McLaughlin’s family over the matter.

Speaking after the meeting on Tuesday evening, Mr Varadkar said he had apologised to Ms Brannigan.

“I had a very helpful and constructive meeting with Ms Brannigan and her daughter Jolene,” Mr Varadkar said.

“I offered my condolences to them on Danielle’s tragic death. I also apologised for the error my department made with respect to her citizenship.

“Ms Brannigan gave me several examples of how the Government could better assist her and other families in similarly difficult circumstances, including the appointment of family liaison officers, an amendment to the Victims’ Charter, more written information, counselling services and monitoring of overseas trials by our diplomatic staff.

“I agreed to follow up on these matters and a contact person has been assigned to her in the Department of Foreign Affairs.”

On Monday Ms Brannigan said the family felt they have been “left to deal with this” on their own. “We feel abandoned by our own government,” said Danielle’s sister, Joelene.

Ms Brannigan had 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”.

The Taoiseach took part in a series of engagements in the north west of Ireland earlier. -PA