Northern Ireland news

Family left 'devastated' following sudden death of west Belfast mother-of-two in Turkey

West Belfast woman Maria McLaughlin died suddenly while on holiday in Turkey
Marie Louise McConville

The family of a "loving" west Belfast woman who died suddenly while on holiday in Turkey have told of their heartbreak.

Maria McLaughlin (45) had been on holiday with a friend in Marmaris when she became ill and died suddenly.

The Twinbrook woman, who has two children and two grandchildren, had gone to the reception in her hotel to check the time of her airport pick-up the next day, and was returning to her room when she began experiencing breathing difficulties.

She was helped on to the bed in her room but passed away a short time later.

The west Belfast woman's family have been told the cause of her death, on May 12, is "undetermined" and "under investigation".

Ms McLaughlin's sister, Francine McLaughlin told the Irish News that the family had been left "devastated" by Maria's sudden death.

"It is heart-wrenching," she said.

"It's unimaginable. You just don't think it is going to come to your door".

She said the family had been informed of Maria's death by PSNI officers who came to the family home in the Springfield area on the evening of May 12.

The 33-year-old described her sister, who had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), as "kind" and "loving", adding, she would "give you her last".

"She was loved by everybody," she said.

"Maria was just a kind, loving, bubbly person. She was very generous. We loved her, she was so lovely. She was always there, Anything you needed, she would be there".

Francine said her sister's remains arrived back in Ireland on Wednesday, thanks to the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.

"They are angels on earth," she said.

"You could never ever give them enough credit. What they do is unbelievable. We can't thank them enough".

She also thanked everyone in the community who had come to the aid of the family in the aftermath of the tragedy.

In a bid to raise funds, door-to-door collections were carried out, a sponsored car wash took place and an online fundraising page was set up.

"From the bottom of our hearts, everybody's generosity and kind words, we can not thank them enough," said Francine.

"We will forever be grateful. We will never forget it. It is just amazing. It just shows how people reach out and help each other".

The west Belfast woman said while it had been "torture" waiting for her sister's remains to be brought home, the family had been told that Maria had had the "time of her life" on the holiday.

She added: "I can't believe I am never going to see her again. You think you are ok and the next minute it hits you".

Requiem Mass for Maria McLaughlin will take place tomorrow (TUES) at 11am at Corpus Christi Church. Burial will take place afterwards in Milltown Cemetery.

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