Mother of Donegal woman murdered in India told to seek help from British

Andrea Brannigan, mother of Danielle McLaughlin, had sought meeting with Taoiseach

Danielle McLaughlin had been backpacking in India when she was murdered.

Danielle McLaughlin had been backpacking in India when she was murdered.

 

The mother of Danielle McLaughlin said she was disgusted to be refused a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar because his office claimed she her daughter ‘was not an Irish citizen’.

Danielle, from Buncrana, was 28 years old when she was raped and murdered during Holi Festival celebrations at a beach resort in India.

She was travelling with a British passport at the time and had dual British-Irish citizenship as she was born in Glasgow.

Danielle’s mother Andrea Brannigan requested a private meeting with the Taoiseach during an upcoming visit to Donegal to discuss the tragic case of her daughter, who was murdered while backpacking in Goa in March 2017.

Ms Brannigan had emailed Mr Varadkar’s office earlier this week to ask him to meet her to discuss the circumstance of her daughter’s case.

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.

She was told to contact Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt instead.

“Danielle would be so annoyed by this because she was so proud to be Irish. Danielle lived in Ireland since she was two weeks old. She had an Irish passport, but when she lost it she needed another quickly and applied for a British one in 2015,” said Ms Brannigan.

Private meeting

She said she sought a private meeting with Mr Varadkar to ask for more assistance for Irish families who have had relatives die abroad. She also wanted to ask for Government intervention in the murder trial of Danielle’s accused killer, Vikat Bhagat, in South Goa.

“I wanted to discuss the fact that this case is going to take a long time and I was looking for a way to see if he could intervene in any way,” she said.

“We have a trial every few weeks and we have to fund the legal costs ourselves. It is so slow that I want to ask the Government to try and fast track it. I don’t think me or anybody else should be left in this situation, there is basically no help for us,” she said.

Ms Brannigan said she has received no help from the Irish Embassy, and felt as though the British and Irish consulate are passing the case off to each other due to Danielle’s dual citizenship.

She highlighted the lack of support she received from the Irish consulate as she learned of Danielle’s death through social media, instead of an official call from the authorities.

“On the morning Danielle was found, I should never have found out the way that I did on Facebook. I had to phone the guards and they didn’t know. It was only that afternoon that they confirmed it. She was dead about 48 hours at this stage.”

A spokeswoman for the Taoiseach said he is aware of the tragic circumstances surrounding the death Danielle McLaughlin, and extended his deepest sympathy to her family.

“The letter received by the Department of the Taoiseach from Danielle’s mother indicated that Danielle was travelling on a British passport, leading officials handling the matter to incorrectly conclude that Danielle was a British citizen,” the statement said.

“This was the basis on which the office advised Danielle’s family that the matter would be most appropriately handled by the British authorities. Having now clarified the facts surrounding this case, the Department can confirm that Consular services of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have and will continue to be provided to Danielle’s family, as appropriate.

“The Department sincerely regrets the misunderstanding that arose in this case,” the spokeswoman said.