Northern Ireland news

Mother of murdered Donegal woman Danielle McLaughlin wants apology from Leo Varadkar over passport snub

The mother of Danielle McLaughlin says she feels her daughter was disowned by Leo Varadkar's officials
Andrea McKernon

THE mother of a Donegal woman who was raped and murdered in India wants a direct apology from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar after she was refused a meeting because her daughter had travelled on a British passport.

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.

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

But Andrea Brannigan says she was told by government officials that it was "probably not worthwhile" as her daughter was not an Irish citizen.

She was advised to contact British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Mr Varadkar is expected to travel to Donegal tomorrow on an unrelated matter and it is understood the family may now meet him during his visit.

Ms Brannigan said her daughter, who grew up in Buncrana and attended Liverpool John Moores University, was "very proud to be Irish".

"She went to school here, she worked here and she paid her taxes here – now the government has disowned her," she told told the BBC.

"There are days when I feel like I can't go on but then I think about her and it gives me inspiration to go on.

"She was so vibrant and had loads of friends – she was an amazing sister and an amazing daughter.

"I would like a direct apology from Leo Varadkar."

In a statement, the Department of Taoiseach said officials "incorrectly concluded" Ms McLaughlin was a British citizen.

"The taoiseach is aware of the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Irish citizen Danielle McLaughlin, and extends his deepest sympathy to Danielle's family.

"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."

Fianna Fáil TD Pat "The Cope" Gallagher expressed shock at the treatment of the grieving mother.

"This is a disgraceful response to send to anyone, but to send a response to a mother who lost their daughter in such a horrific way is beyond the pale," he said.

"While I am led to believe that the taoiseach will now meet Andrea this week, the lack of compassion and consideration beggars belief.

"While I don't believe it actually matters, Danielle held an Irish passport previously and had lived most of her live here in Donegal."

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