'˜I used to love her coming through my door, her smile lit up the room'

The remains of the Buncrana woman who was murdered in Goa, India, last week is set to arrive in Dublin today.

Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:52 am
Updated Saturday, 25th March 2017, 11:44 am

It is understood the body of the late Danielle McLaughlin will arrive at Dublin airport at midday, and it could take four to six days before she is brought home to Buncrana. Danielle will be accompanied by friends, Nicole Farren and Sherridan Smith, who travelled to Goa to take her home.

Hundreds of people gathered at the ‘Amazing Grace’ Viewing Point at the Stone Jug in Buncrana on Tuesday evening to pay tribute to the 28-years-old, who was murdered in Goa, at a special vigil. It is understood the young Buncrana woman was strangled and sexually assaulted.

Friends, family and members of the community gathered together holding candles, photos and their memories of Danielle.

As the last light of day began to fade, Danielle’s friend Christy Duffy, speaking on behalf of the family, thanked everyone involved in Danielle’s repatriation and Tuesday’s vigil, including Colin from the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust,

“We would also like to extend thanks to all of Danielle’s friends for their tireless hard work around the world and to the local community here in Buncrana,” he said.

Mr Duffy said it was too often that the community of Buncrana had gathered in such circumstances and they were reminded of the many tragedies the area has suffered.

“Words and thoughts can do little at a time like this, to help us understand how such an awful tragedy can happen, especially to someone so full of life and love like Danielle was.

“We take this opportunity to call for justice from the Indian legal system and appeal to the Indian authorities for a full, diligent, transparent and open investigation into all aspects of this crime. We ask them to have real faithand that, with their help, full justice will be served and the truth known, which will provide some small comfort to the family,” he added.

Mr Duffy said the large crowd was gathered at the Stone Jug “with a common goal of paying tribute to a friend, a relative, an aquaintance, or maybe even a stranger whom you think you’ve gotten to know over the past week from the outpouring of the beautiful stories and words you have seen in the media.

“We are here to say goodbye. Goodbye to an eternal optimist, a comedian, an adventurer, a beautiful soul, our friend, goodbye Danielle.

“Although you have left our sight, you will always live on in our hearts,”

Danielle’s lifelong friend, Louise McMenamin, said Danielle’s mother, Andrea, and her sisters appreciated the kind messages and support shown to them over the last week.

She spoke briefly about her friend who has “always” been a part of her life.

“I can’t even begin to comprehend what has happened to my friend Danielle, and how badly she suffered in her final moments.

“It is something I keep thinking over and over in my head and I don’t think I will ever understand why this has happened to her. Danielle was one of the most kind, caring people I knew. She had so much compassion and was filled with complete happiness.

“I used to love her coming through my door, because her smile used to light up the whole room. She had such a positive energy about her that it instantly made me feel better by just being in her presence. She made me laugh like no one else, and I can still hear her laugh in my head, I just hope that laugh doesn’t fade away.

“Danielle has always been part of my life, and I can’t imagine life without her,” she said.

However, Louise vowed to fight for justice for Danielle. to ensure that “another woman on this planet should never have to die in fear like she did.

“This is why we have to stand together and show the world we need justice for Danielle. Not only are we grieving Danielle, but this is also a murder enquiry. The Indian authorities have to do a full investigation in Danielle’s case so we can get the justice that Danielle deserves.”

Danielle’s sister, Sian, spoke to the crowd about her big sister who was “one of the kindest people” she would ever meet.

“She told me once that you can do an act of kindness, but it no longer counts as an act if you tell someone. You can no longer look back on it and feel good. An act of kindness should not be told to others.

“She was so giving, even if she had very little to give. She will always be my role model because of her attitude towards life. No matter where in the world she was, we knew we were never far from her thoughts. She always kept in touch with us, even if she was in the middle of the jungle.

“Danielle touched so many lives, her hair shined brighter than the sun. She will be the brightest star in the sky forever. We will miss you as much as we love you, the whole way around the world and back again,” she said.

Tributes were also paid by Danielle’s former principal at Scoil Mhuire, Mr Liam Rainey who described her as a “great person” who “added considerably to the school life.”

“She fizzed around the school, she was a firecracker,” he said.