Irish premier apologises to mother of murder victim

Donegal woman Danielle McLaughlin, who was found murdered at an Indian beach resort. Pic: Family handout/PA Wire
Donegal woman Danielle McLaughlin, who was found murdered at an Indian beach resort. Pic: Family handout/PA Wire

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has personally apologised to the mother of an Irish 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 the Irish premier on Tuesday evening at the Bishop’s Gate Hotel in Londonderry.

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

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.

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

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

The distraught 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.”

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

Mr Varadkar visited E+I Engineering Ltd in Burnfoot where he welcomed the creation of 90 new jobs.

He also officially opened a new bridge in Buncrana and addressed a meeting of the Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce.

He departed from City of Derry Airport on Tuesday evening.