Rebecca Browne: Family 'want answers' over Garda car death

The family of a young Londonderry woman who died after being hit by a Garda (Irish police) patrol car has said they are "walking with broken hearts and no answers about what happened".

Rebecca Browne, 21, from the Galliagh area of Derry, died in May 2023 at Ludden, near Buncrana in County Donegal.

She had gone to Buncrana with her cousin for a night out.

The collision was then referred to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.

A walk was held in the Waterside area of Derry on Sunday in memory of Ms Browne, who was a hairdresser and a keen singer.

Family and friends lined the streets wearing blue and released blue balloons into the sky before walking the Craigavon Bridge and Peace Bridge.

Karina Smith
Karina Smith said "the pain has been unbearable" [BBC]

"She was well loved, funny and a people person," Rebecca's aunt and godmother Karina Smith told BBC News NI.

"Rebecca loved her family and we loved her. We are absolutely devastated.

"We lost my mammy in 2020 during Covid, Rebecca's granny. Rebecca helped her mother Lynn through that.

"It's was a double tragedy for Lynn over the space of a few years. The pain has been unbearable at times."

Mrs Smith recalled that at the time of the tragedy Ms Browne's brother called her to break the news to her, but the circumstances were unclear at that stage.

"We didn't even know then she was hit by Garda patrol car," she added.

"There are still so many unanswered questions almost a year on. We are actually still guessing where it was on the road she was knocked down.

"The investigation is ongoing but we've received no clarity. We haven't even received a sorry for what happened. It just adds to the turmoil."

'Still no answers'

Mrs Smith, who has been speaking on behalf of the family to BBC Radio Foyle's North West Today, said "communication has been lacklustre from An Garda Síochána (Irish police) and the ombudsman commission".

"You have to put your grief on hold. We are walking with our hearts broken and still no answers.

"People were walking through Derry today in her memory with tears in their eyes remembering Rebecca. When the blue balloons were released it proved to us how much she was loved and will always be remembered.

"We need answers and movement now. In the meantime I want people to remember Rebecca the way we do - loving, caring and that big smile."

Group of people holding blue balloons
Family and friends of Rebecca Browne lined the streets of Derry wearing blue and released blue balloons into the sky [BBC]

A spokesperson for the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) told BBC News NI that the investigation is continuing.

"Investigations into incidents such as this require time and care," the spokesperson added.

"GSOC's priority is to ensure that the investigation is as thorough as possible. In the context of a live investigation, there are significant restrictions placed upon an investigative agency with regard to what it may disclose to interested parties.

"This is to ensure that the integrity of the investigation, and of any statutory processes that may arise from it, is preserved.

"The investigation team and family liaison officers will continue to liaise with the Browne family and their appointed representatives."

A spokesperson for An Garda Síochána said they do not comment on investigations being conducted by GSOC.