John McAreavey and Michaela McAreavey on their wedding day Photo by: PA

Mauritius boycott by Irish likely after farcical murder trial


John McAreavey and Michaela McAreavey on their wedding day Photo by: PA

It is hard to fathom the depth of grief that the family of Michaela Harte McAreavey had to sustain after she was murdered on her honeymoon in the “paradise” island of Mauritius in 2011.

Her devastated family was consoled by hundreds of thousands around Ireland who came out for memorial services and her funeral.

Her dad, Mickey Harte, is one of Ireland’s most famous sportsmen, taking Tyrone to its first ever All-Ireland final victory in Gaelic football.

But the family sustained another series of body blows in recent weeks that dragged up all the pain and suffering sustained after Michaela was murdered in her hotel room in January of last year.

A farcical trial that ran for months and exposed Mauritian justice as being of the Keystone Cops variety ended in the acquittal of the men accused of the foul murder, though there seemed clear evidence that at least one of them was guilty.

Then a local newspaper did the unthinkable and published photographs of the young bride after she had been killed, proclaiming a “world scoop.”

Michaela died after returning to her room unexpectedly. She saw some hotel employees in there, almost certainly trying to rob the room she sheared with her new husband John.

She confronted them and was strangled in a fit of panic by the thieves, her body thrown into a bathtub where her stricken husband discovered it.

Even for gutter journalism, publishing her photographs exceeded the basic human standard of compassion for the loss of a loved one.

The Mauritius authorities clearly leaked the pictures to the newspaper that proceeded to use them.

The outrage in Ireland reached to the very top, with Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Kenny speaking out forcefully.

“The publication of these images represents an appalling invasion of privacy and is a gross affront to human dignity. There are issues of fundamental human rights in question in relation to this deeply upsetting matter,” Kenny said.

“This reprehensible act can only add to the pain and suffering of the McAreavey and Harte families. and our thoughts and sympathies are again with them at this time. On behalf of the people of Ireland, the government will be lodging a formal complaint in the strongest possible terms, with the government of Mauritius.”

In Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also made his feelings known, as did many elected officials on both sides of the Irish border.

For an island that depends so heavily on tourism, especially honeymooners, for its livelihood, Mauritius is playing a dangerous game.

Many newspapers in Ireland have already called for a boycott of the island, and it is a call that is repeated here for Irish American couples contemplating a honeymoon or vacation on the island in the Indian Ocean.

The disregard for the Harte family and their feelings for their beloved daughter, not to mention the anguish of her widower John McAreavey, is stunning.

It is time Mauritius felt the lash of the Irish abroad as well as in Ireland so they might understand the savage damage they have done.

There are lots of nice places in the world to honeymoon, and plenty of sunshine spots to vacation on.

Unfortunately Mauritius, with its laughable system of justice and fairness, is not one.


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