Agencies ‘will learn’ from error over woman’s burial, says Minister

Charlie Flanagan says he deeply regrets friends of Sylva Tukula were not notified

There will be no repeat of the breakdown in communication which led to a woman, who died while in direct provision, being buried without her friends and colleagues being notified about her funeral, the Minister for Justice has pledged.

Charlie Flanagan said he deeply regretted the circumstances surrounding the burial of Sylva Tukula, a transgender woman in her mid 30s, who died at the all-male Great Western direct provision centre in Galway in August.

She was buried in a HSE-owned plot in Galway last month without her friends being notified.

“I offer my condolences and sympathies to Sylva Tukula’s friends in the community. Lessons have been learned and there will not be a re-occurrence . I very much regret what happened and it will not be repeated,” he said.


Mr Flanagan said his colleague, minister of state for equality, David Stanton had been in touch with those in the LGBT community in Galway and he understood an appropriate commemorative service would be held as soon as possible.

Ms Tukula, who had spent most of her life in South Africa, died last August of natural causes. She was buried on May 9th. at Bohermore cemetery after Galway City Coroner, Dr Ciaran Mac Loughlin was told Ms Tukula had no next of kin.

However, Ms Tukula’s friends and colleagues in the LGBT in Galway say they were “assured by both national and local State representatives” that they would be notified as soon as burial arrangements were made.

A Department of Justice spokesman said there had been a breakdown in communication between the various state agencies and the department intended to liaise with Ms Tukula’s friends with a view to holding a memorial event in the locality.

A spokesman for the South African embassy in Dublin, naming Ms Tukula as Vusi Sylvester Tukula, said it had been contacted by gardaí in August.

“However, all efforts in South Africa to trace any possible next of kin of the deceased were without success.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times