Belfast Telegraph

Mum of Donegal woman murdered and raped in India set to finally meet Taoiseach

By Leona O'Neill

The mother of murdered Donegal woman Danielle McLaughlin will meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this week after having an earlier request denied because his office said she "was not an Irish citizen".

Twenty-eight-year-old Buncrana native Danielle was found raped and strangled in the Goa region of India in March 2017.

Her mother Andrea Brannigan (47) had requested a meeting with the Taoiseach to seek assistance in putting pressure on the government of India to fast-track her murder case.

However, since Danielle - who was born in Glasgow but moved to Donegal when she was two weeks old and lived in Ireland for her entire life - was travelling on a newly acquired British passport, the Department of the Taoiseach said she "wasn't an Irish citizen" and directed them towards the UK Government.

Her mother said she was glad she would now get to put some tough questions to Mr Varadkar.

"I have a lot of questions what was sent to me and how I have been treated this last 18 months since Danielle died," she said.

"I have got nothing from the Irish government except phone calls to ask me what is happening with the court case.

"I have had no support whatsoever from them or the British embassy, except advice to get a lawyer which we had to pay for ourselves.

"Danielle had held an Irish passport since she was a child.

"She lost it while travelling in Australia in 2015.

"Her father was dying and she needed to get home quickly, so she applied and got a UK passport because the process was faster.

"She had dual citizenship, but had always travelled on an Irish passport.

"This denial of Danielle as an Irish citizen really broke my heart. I was heartbroken for Danielle, she was so proud to be Irish.

"I know she would have been very upset and annoyed about this.

"When I opened the letter I couldn't believe it.

"I had to reread it three times before I could take it in.

"To me they were basically saying, go away."

Andrea says that when she meets Leo Varadkar tomorrow she will ask him to push for a law to help other families going through similar experiences.

"I will ask him to do something so that families in the future don't have to go through what we went through," she said.

"We want to set up a trust or a law with the government's help for people just like us who were left alone when their loved one is killed abroad. We are still waiting for anyone officially to come to our door and tell us that Danielle is dead and that they are sorry for our loss.

"Danielle's friend found out that my daughter had died on Facebook and she came to us and said she was sorry.

"That is how we found out.

"We were left on our own. If it hadn't been for the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, Danielle would not even be home today. We were left in limbo.

"We didn't know where to go next.

"I'm hoping that Leo Varadkar will take this on now and help us. I am exhausted by it all at this stage, to be honest.

"It's bad enough losing my daughter, but then having to fight for justice and to pay for court cases. It's too much to bear."

The Department of the Taoiseach could not be reached for comment.

The family are raising money for their fight for justice via the www.truthfordanielle.com website

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