The mother of the late Danielle McLaughlin says she is determined to improve the rights of bereaved families who lose loved ones abroad, despite waiting years for assistance after the tragic death of her daughter.
Buncrana mother Andrea Brannigan has this week received confirmation that a representative of the Irish Embassy will attend the murder trial of Danielle’s alleged killer in India.
Danielle was 28 years old when she was violently killed while travelling in Goa in March 2017. The trial of her alleged murderer and rapist, Vikat Bhagat (24), continues in South Goa.
Danielle’s heartbroken mum Andrea says she wants to get a video link to see live proceedings from the courtroom in India.
This is one of the requests that Andrea has made to the Consular Assistance Manager assigned to her last week. The manager also confirmed that a representative of the Irish Embassy will attend Bhagat’s trial on Monday, November 4th.
Speaking to Donegal Daily, Andrea said that she asked for the representative to request that the case is fast-tracked through the courts.
“The trial court has not been on since last Monday, it won’t be on until this Monday again, and it is only on for 30 minutes to an hour at a time. And the Indian government tells us this is fast-tracked,” she said.
“I have asked for a video link so that I can see the court. I was told they said no, but if the Irish representative attends then I want them to ask too. I want to see what is happening for myself.”
Andrea added that she is hoping to travel to Goa herself next year.
More than a year has passed since An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met with Andrea and her daughter Jolene in Derry to discuss Danielle’s case and the need for change in the policies of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Andrea proposed amending the Victims Charter to include assistance for bereaved families of Irish citizens who die abroad. This amendment was to be called Danielle’s Amendment, but after a year, it has yet to be finalised.
Andrea said: “The Consular Assistance Manager said they are finalising the amendment. But I don’t know what is in it. I know what we asked for, but I haven’t seen it yet.”
Andrea has been invited to view the amendment in the near future, but until she sees the document, she said she will not mark it as an achievement from the meeting with the Taoiseach.
“To this date I am still waiting on a liaison officer and that was one of the things that I was promised at the meeting.
“I am not saying anything yet because he (Varadkar) promised me a lot last year and there have been no changes to date,” she said.
Andrea’s unwavering determination comes from wanting to improve the level of assistance available for other families in the future who have to deal with the tragic loss of loved ones abroad.
She said: “Hundreds of Irish people die every year abroad in different circumstances and these families are left to deal with it on their own.
“I just want things to change for families. Families shouldn’t feel so alone when something happens abroad. You’re left to deal with everything on your own.”
Andrea said that she won’t give up until change happens and Danielle’s Amendment is passed.
“I’m quite headstrong and I will keep emailing the Department. Danielle wouldn’t have given up. This is for her. She would want to help others.”