'The grieving can begin, now that Nicola is home'
THE devastated family of a student found dead in Tokyo wish to keep her remains at home for as long as possible to allow heartbroken relatives grieve.
Student Nicola Furlong was being waked in a pink coffin at the family home in the seaside village of Curracloe, Co Wexford, after her brutal death in Japan.
The 21-year-old's body arrived back in Ireland on Thursday, but her family have opted to have her funeral tomorrow.
Ms Furlong's uncle Denis Corrigan told the Irish Independent that the family wanted to spend as much time with her as they could.
"He [Nicola's father Andrew] was so proud to have her back last night. It's been such a long week and now that she's home, the grieving process can start now at this point," Mr Corrigan said.
"He [Andrew] wants to keep her as long as possible. Every moment is precious at this stage."
Visitors have been arriving at the family home to console the DCU student's father Andrew and her mother, Angie Doyle Furlong, throughout yesterday.
Mr Corrigan said there had been an outpouring of support for the family from across the country.
"This is not just Curracloe or Wexford. People are ringing me and texting me from all over the country. It has just been totally overwhelming," he said.
There were poignant scenes at Dublin Airport on Thursday morning when the young woman's remains arrived.
Her remains will be reposing at her home until her removal tomorrow at 12.30pm to St Margaret's Church in Curracloe for funeral Mass at 1pm.
Burial will take place in the adjoining cemetery.
Local curate Fr Jim Fitzpatrick said he "can't begin to imagine" what Nicola's parents have endured since learning of their daughter's brutal death in Tokyo. "It has been described as 'every parent's worst nightmare'," he said.
"The family in some way are relieved that at least Nicola is home," he added.
Mr Corrigan said songs were being picked for her funeral and guards of honour would be performed at her funeral.
"Everyone who has had an association with her are willingly offering and coming from all over the place," he said.
Japanese police continue to probe Ms Furlong's death. They are questioning two men.
Detectives are investigating whether Ms Furlong, and her friend, who flew back to Ireland on Thursday, were drugged and plied with alcohol before being sexually assaulted.