Evening Express

Mother of murder victim welcomes Taoiseach apology over nationality mix-up

The mother of an Irish woman who was raped and murdered in India has commended Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for apologising to her personally for an error made by his department over her initial request to meet him.

Andrea Brannigan met the Irish Premier at the Bishop’s Gate Hotel in Londonderry on Tuesday night.

She commended him for spending almost two hours with her and her daughter Jolene, but warned “actions speak louder than words”.

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, who was found murdered at an Indian beach resort (Family handout)

Her mother requested a meeting with Mr Varadkar to discuss how families could be better supported when a loved one dies abroad.

But the Taoiseach’s department initially redirected her to the British Foreign Office because Ms McLaughlin had been travelling on a UK passport.

The department has since apologised for what it termed an error.

On Tuesday night, Mr Varadkar apologised to her personally.

“That was the first thing he did, apologise for what happened (the error by his department,” she said.

“He shook my hand. He listened which was the main thing, and even stayed with us over the time. The meeting lasted nearly two hours.”

A representative from the Irish Foreign Office was also present during the meeting.

“The Irish Foreign Office have an embassy in Delhi so they are going to send someone every few months to observe the trial,” she said.

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

Ms Brannigan welcomed the meeting, but warned “actions speak louder than words”.

“We are very hopeful that our Taoiseach will keep his promises so we can finally say our government have helped us,” she said.

“Actions speak louder than words, we are glad Leo has agreed to help us so we now hope he actually does.

“The meeting was very constructive and we felt so welcomed. Leo Varadkar made sure we had his complete undivided attention throughout our meeting which we are very thankful for.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the meeting was constructive (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ms Brannigan said her family want legislation passed so that in future Irish families who lose a loved one abroad will be supported.

“We hope that ‘Danielle’s amendment’ may be passed so that no family who have had a loved one killed abroad will ever have to feel like we have or be treated the way we have,” she said.

“We do not want any family in a similar situation to us to feel isolated and alone.”

In a statement, Mr Varadkar described the meeting as “constructive”.

“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.”