'Danielle would be so annoyed by this because she was so proud to be Irish.'
The mother of Danielle McLaughlin has said she was disgusted to be refused a meeting with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar – because his office claims the late Buncrana woman ‘was not an Irish citizen’.
Danielle’s mother Andrea Brannigan requested a private meeting with the Taoiseach during an upcoming visit to Donegal to discuss the tragic case of her daughter, who was murdered while backpacking in Goa, India in March 2017.
Danielle, from Buncrana, was 28 years old when she was raped and murdered during Holi Festival celebrations at a beach resort in Goa. She was travelling with a British passport at the time and had dual British-Irish citizenship as she was born in Glasgow.
He mother Andrea Brannigan had emailed the Taoiseach this week to ask him to meet her to discuss the circumstance of her daughter’s case.
Ms Brannigan was shocked to receive a reply from the Office of the Taoiseach saying it “was not possible and indeed probably not worthwhile” for her to meet Varadkar, because his office claimed Danielle was not an Irish citizen. She was told to contact Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt instead.
Ms Brannigan told Donegal Daily: “Danielle would be so annoyed by this because she was so proud to be Irish.
“Danielle lived in Ireland since she was two weeks old. She had an Irish passport, but when she lost it she needed another quickly and applied for a British one in 2015.”
Ms Brannigan sought a private meeting with Varadkar to ask for more assistance for Irish families who have had relatives die abroad. She also wanted to ask for government intervention in the murder trial of Danielle’s accused killer, Vikat Bhagat, in South Goa.
“I wanted to discuss the fact that this case is going to take a long time and I was looking for a way to see if he (Varadkar) could intervene in any way,” Ms Brannigan said.
“We have a trial every few weeks and we have to fund the legal costs ourselves. It is so slow that I want to ask the government to try and fast track it.
“I don’t think me or anybody else should be left in this situation, there is basically no help for us.”
Ms Brannigan said she has received no help from the Irish Embassy, and felt as though the British and Irish consulate are passing the case off to each other due to Danielle’s dual citizenship.
“I need to discuss how Irish citizens need more support when their loved ones die abroad.”
Ms Brannigan pointed out the lack of support from the Irish consulate extended to the fact that she learned of Danielle’s horrific death through social media, instead of an official call from the authorities.
She said: “On the morning Danielle was found, I should never have found out the way that I did on Facebook. I had to phone the guards and they didn’t know. It was only that afternoon that they confirmed it. She was dead about 48 hours at this stage.”
“A Bill needs to be put through the government, that’s what I’m fighting for – for more support for families. I am Danielle’s voice now because she doesn’t have one. We are her only voice.
“I am very lucky, in a way, that I have a great community behind me who have helped to fundraise for our legal team, but not everyone has that.”
Ms Brannigan added that she does not know if Varadkar has seen her request because the letter received on Friday was signed by the Assistant Private Secretary to the Taoiseach.
“I don’t know if the Taoiseach has seen it, but the Secretary works for him.
“To come back with a response like that is absolutely disgusting.”
Despite the shocking reply, she said she still wants a private meeting with the Taoiseach.
Ms Brannigan said: “I want to tell him that Danielle is Irish.
“Danielle’s favourite day of the year was St. Patrick’s Day. She was known by her friends as the ‘Wee Irish Princess’. She was never known as a British person. She loved her Irish roots.”
Danielle’s family are continuously fundraising and campaigning to secure justice for the late Buncrana woman. You can donate to the Truth for Danielle Mc Laughlin fund by visiting www.truthfordanielle.com and clicking ‘Donate’.
You can also keep up to date with future fundraisers by visiting the Truth for Danielle Mc Laughlin Facebook page.
Update: 23.55, 7th September:
A Government Spokesperson has told DonegalWoman.ie that the letter to Ms Brannigan was issued due to a ‘misunderstanding’ over Danielle’s citizenship.
A spokesperson for the Department of the Taoiseach said:
“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.
“The letter received by the Department of the Taoiseach from Danielle’s mother indicated that Danielle was travelling on a British passport, leading officials handling the matter to incorrectly conclude that Danielle was a British citizen. This was the basis on which the office advised Danielle’s family that the matter would be most appropriately handled by the British authorities.
“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.”