According to today's edition of The Sun newspaper, a dead body has been found in the Dublin office of the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan,TD.
The Irish edition of the UK newspaper reports on its front page (with the full story on page 9) that the dead person was a 34-year-old women who had "worked directly for the Minister" in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. She apparently committed suicide and her body had been lying undiscovered in a cupboard at the department for four days.
The tragic death of the young woman occured already more than six months ago, but it appears that the government - or at least the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food - decided to cover up the case and make no formal announcement.
The Sun reports that the woman's 39-year-old husband, who had also worked for the department, had died shortly before (of natural causes) and that "she never recovered from her loss". Colleagues saw her leaving her desk at around 11 a.m. on Friday, August 31st, 2007 - and she was never seen alive again. Four days later she was found by a cleaner, lying in a cupboard and wrapped in paper. It appears that she put herself into that position, after having taken an overdose of sleeping pills. The paper also reports that the woman came from Co. Kildare and had shortly before her death given away her two dogs. But no one seemed to be alarmed by her behaviour, following the loss of her husband.
Despite the fact that she had gone missing from her desk and there was no evidence that she had left the building, no immediate search for the woman took place. Only three days later Gardai arrived at the office, to check CCTV footage, but not to conduct a search. The following day a cleaner made the gruesome discovery in a cupboard.
As tragic as this case is, it is even more bizarre that there was no official announcement from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, nor from the Garda Siochana. Apparently the body was quietly removed and cremated at the Mount Jerome Crematorium on September 7th, 2007 - with very few people in attendance. One cannot think of any good reason why the department - presumably with knowledge and agreement of the Minister - would decide to cover the death of an apparently good and popular colleague with a blanket of silence.
It appears that many colleagues of the dead woman were indeed unhappy with the way the case had been dealt with, and their anger has eventually lead to today's newspaper report. Neither Minister Mary Coughlan nor her department have made any statements or comments on the affair, and The Sun reports that "repeated calls" from their journalists were not returned by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Without any suggestion of malice, one wonders what they might have to hide and can only be very astonished by their silence.
Mary Coughlan (photo), the Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal South-West, was appointed to her current ministerial post on September 29th, 2004. Previously she served as the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, and as Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands. She is a member of Dáil Éireann since 1987.
Ms. Coughlan was also a member of Donegal County Council between 1986 and 2001, and a member of the North Western Health Board between 1987 and 2001.
Born in County Donegal in May 1965, she is a daughter of the late Cathal Coughlan, Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal South-West from 1983 to 1986. She was educated at the Ursuline Convent in Sligo and University College, Dublin and is married to David Charlton. They have a son and a daughter.
The Emerald Islander