The Irish government is to demand an apology to the family of the late Michaela McAreavey after a newspaper in Mauritius published photographs of her murder – including shots of her dead body.
The Mauritius Sunday Times shocked readers when it published a dozen photos of the scene at the Legends hotel on the island where Michaela, daughter of Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte, was murdered on her honeymoon.
The photos were printed on Sunday, just two days after two hotel workers accused of Michaela’s murder were cleared of all charges.
The black and white images appeared as Michaela’s husband John arrived back in Ireland after attending the sensational eight week long trial.
The recently launched paper printed a front page photo of Michaela taken after her death with a massive ‘Exclusive’ headline over the image.
Photos of Michaela’s injuries and other images of the crime scene were published including the hotel room and the bathroom.
The paper has defended its right to print, claiming the public in Mauritius ‘deserve to know’ what the murder scene looked like. It has yet to say how the photos were obtained.
The McAreavey and Harte families have condemned the photos while the Irish government is to take up the incident with the Mauritius authorities.
In a statement, the families said: “As the families struggle to come to terms with the result from the trial - this action by the newspaper is not only insensitive to their grief but marks another low in the treatment of John, the two families and the dignity of Michaela.”
Ireland’s ambassador to Mauritius has been called to a meeting in Dublin with Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore to discuss a formal complaint to the government in Mauritius.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny has condemned the publication of the photos.
Kenny said: “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.
“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.”
Speaking on the This Week programme on RTÉ Radio earlier, Ireland’s Jobs and Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said that he was ‘appalled’ by the actions of the newspaper.
He told state broadcaster RTE: “I know the desolation that this family has been through and I think this is beyond all realms of legitimate public interest to be fundamentally invading the human rights of this family.
“I’ve spoken to the Taoiseach (prime minister) before I came on air and he’s equally just flabbergasted and flattened here. The government will be assessing what action we can take to seek to protect the family.
“The whole conduct of this affair from the start has not inspired confidence and I think the family have been treated in an appalling way and I think rarely have I been so inspired by the courage, the humanity and the faith of a family in the face of such tragedy.
“To find that this is the way that they’ve been treated and abused, it really is beyond belief.”
Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister and Sinn Fein representative Martin McGuinness claimed that the photographs had come from within the Mauritian ‘system’.
McGuinness said: “Just when it seems the system in Mauritius cannot heap any more pain and anguish on to the McAreavey and Harte families, a local newspaper publishes pictures of Michaela’s body,.
“The decision of the newspaper in Mauritius to publish crime scene photographs, including pictures of Michaela’s body, is an outrageous abuse that cannot be justified in any way.
“People in Mauritius need to realise that the eyes of the international community are firmly focused on their country and their justice system in the wake of the brutal murder of Michaela and the absolute failure to deliver justice for John McAreavey and the rest of family.
“This case will not simply go away as some in Mauritius seem to hope. I can assure the Mauritian authorities that people in Ireland will continue to keep a focus on this case until justice is done.”