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Thursday 22 February 2018

'Women should be safe and never have to live and die in fear' - India murder victim Danielle's friends make powerful speech

Danielle's friends read an impassioned speech about women's rights Photo: Nicole Farren
Danielle's friends read an impassioned speech about women's rights Photo: Nicole Farren
Danielle's friends at a memorial service in Goa Photo: Nicole Farren

Catherine Devine and Laura Larkin

The friends of Danielle McLaughlin have made a powerful speech demanding justice for their friend and calling for women across the world to stand together against violence.

Danielle's friend, Nicole Farren, from Co Donegal travelled to Goa in India to bring Danielle's remains home.

Danielle McLaughlin. Photo: PA
Danielle McLaughlin. Photo: PA

She read an impassioned speech at a memorial service in Goa to demand justice for her friend Danielle.

Danielle's remains (28) was discovered in a remote area near the holiday hotspot of Canacona, Goa on Tuesday morning.

Danielle's friends at a memorial service in Goa Photo: Nicole Farren
Danielle's friends at a memorial service in Goa Photo: Nicole Farren

A post-mortem found that she had been raped and strangulation was the cause of death.

One man Vikat Bhagat (23) was arrested over the murder and police claim he has confessed to the attack.

"We can not even begin to comprehend what has happened to our amazing beautiful friend Danielle," Nicole said.

"It is horrific and such a tragic way to have departed this world. No one deserves the pain and suffering she endured. How anyone is capable of committing a brutal act such as this to another human being is beyond our understanding."

Danielle's friends at a memorial service in Goa Photo: Nicole Farren
Danielle's friends at a memorial service in Goa Photo: Nicole Farren

Nicole described Danielle as a "vibrant soul" who brought "light, laughter and love" wherever she went.

"Because Danielle's voice has been silenced, we are here to represent her and make sure appropriate measures are taken and justice is served. We know that she would want us to speak up and fight for women all around the world."

Nicole thanked people from across the world for their "overwhelming" support.

"We cannot thank everyone enough, especially those who have helped give us all the courage to take this journey and who donated to Danielle's Go Fund page so we can get her home.

"The Kevin Bell foundation is remarkable and have been with us every step of the way, along with the ladies from the British and Irish Embassys who we could not have done any of this with out."

She also thanked the local community in Goa, who she said have experienced similar tourist deaths in the past.

"We would also like to thank the local community who have been amazing we understand there have been cases of tourists who have been murdered in the past which were quickly solved by the police but after the trial these criminals had been aquited, we sincerely hope that this will not be the case for our Danielle.

"If anything, we hope that this will not only make India but also the rest of the world stand up and face the facts, that there is still so much injustice for women, that in some places we are second class citizens.

"Things need to change, Women need equal rights all over the world. They should be safe always and never be scared, have to live and die in fear."

Danielle's friends hope to bring her home as soon as possible to be with her family in Donegal.

"My Home, the Buncrana community, Donegal, Ireland are still in complete shock. We have felt that throughout this horrific experience the love and connection of our friends and family back home has been truly immense. We love you.

"We understand in communities like this that people like to stick together. They like to solve any problems themselves.

"We understand that there is a lot of pressure on local people to protect criminals operating in the area. They have a lot of power.

"Sometimes though it is time to stand up. To take a stand. And say no. Enough is enough.

"The criminals only have power if you are silent as a community. If only one or two dare speak. But if you stand up together. Many of you. And tell what you know. These criminals will lose their power over you. You are stronger than they are together.

"We want justice for Danielle. She deserves justice. We know that we all want the same. Whatever community we come from. Whatever our backgrounds. We all want the same thing. Justice. So let's get it together."

A memorial ceremony will take place in Buncrana tomorrow at 7pm for local friends and family to honour the memory of Danielle McLaughlin.

Meanwhile, Ms McLaughlin's violent death in Goa has sparked an urgent look at tourism safety in the region.

The Herald Goa is reporting that a local Minister, Vijai Sardasai, met with local Canacona police and with Danielle's loved ones on Saturday night and was appraised of the investigation.

A meeting of tourism stakeholders is to be held on Tuesday and the Minister has ordered the police to send a top deputy to the meeting in a bid to assure people of the Government's commitment to tourism and the safety of travellers in Goa.

Ms McLaughlin's murder was an isolated event he told the paper and there is concern locally about the impression it will create for tourists of the area.

A solidarity rally, organised by the Canacona business community, will also take place tomorrow. 

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