zero tolerance | 

Tánaiste tells Bruna Fonseca vigil violence against women must be ‘called out’

Ralph RiegelIndependent.ie

Over 200 people gathered at a vigil to pay tribute to a Brazilian woman found strangled in a Cork flat as mourners were told her heart was as beautiful as she was strikingly pretty.

A special vigil to honour the memory of Bruna Fonseca (28) was staged at The Lough – the lakeside area in Cork that Bruna had fallen in love with after moving to Ireland from her native Brazil just last September.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin attended the Sunday morning vigil and, after sympathising with Bruna's family and friends on their tragic loss, warned that Ireland must have zero tolerance towards such violence.

"We have to call out violence against women," Mr Martin said.

"We must create a culture in society where there is zero tolerance towards misogyny, violence towards women - in fact (towards) violence in general."

Mr Martin said the location for the vigil was fitting.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin attending the vigil in Cork today. (Provision Photography)

"This is one of the most iconic locations in our city – and Bruna took The Lough to her heart."

He said the Government was doing everything possible to assist the family with the repatriation of Bruna's remains back to her family in Brazil.

Mourners fought back tears amid a sea of white flowers and candles aimed at honouring the memory of the Brazilian librarian.

The special vigil was organised by Ms Fonseca's friends and family to highlight community horror at the discovery of her beaten and strangled remains in a city centre flat on New Year's Day.

Amongst those at the vigil were Bruna's cousin, Marcela Fonseca, her niece, Maria Fonseca, and her close friend, Julina Souza.

Marcela said that Bruna loved The Lough above almost anywhere else in Cork - and adored being able to walk around the lake, admire the wildlife and go for a coffee in the local cafes.

"We just want to say thank you very much for everyone for coming here today to help us," Marcela said.

"It was so good to see so many people here – trying to keep us strong. We need to stay strong. We are far from home but we feel at home."

Friends of Bruna's wore T-shirts emblazoned with her photo and messages of support.

The vigil was organised by Pedro Barroso, Gabriella Lobianco and Alina Cologneso.

Tributes were paid to Bruna in both English and Portuguese.

Bruna's friend, Maria, said the young woman had a heart of pure gold.

"Bruna was like a sunny day in the rainy season. She would welcome you with open arms - her laugh was contagious. There was nothing in the world that would make her give up. Her dreams were just too big."

"The world was her home – she loved to live. Her heart was as gorgeous as her physical beauty. She was unforgettable."

Prayers were offered at the vigil not only for Bruna but for all victims of violence, especially women.

A special vigil to honour the memory of Bruna Fonseca was held today in Cork (Photo: Provision Photography)

Women's groups, politicians, anti-violence campaigners and members of Cork's tightknit Brazilian community were strongly represented at The Lough event.

The body of Ms Fonseca was released from Cork morgue to her heartbroken family last week just 48 hours after a fundraising appeal for her funeral costs soared to almost €55,000, some €25,000 more than its target.

The GoFundMe appeal was launched by friends and family of Ms Fonseca to ensure the body of the 28 year old university graduate can be flown back to her native Brazil home for Requiem Mass and burial.

Maria Luiza Fonseca launched the appeal with the aim of raising €30,000 but was astounded when it soared to almost €55,000.

Ms Fonseca, who was from Formiga in Brazil, travelled to Ireland last year for work.

She was employed by BidVest-Noonan Contractor Cleaners.

She had graduated from university in Brazil and had worked for a time as a librarian before deciding to relocate to Ireland last September.

Her work in Cork included duties at the Mercy University Hospital (MUH) which is located less than 100 metres from where her body was found at 6.30am on New Year's Day.

Gardaí and paramedics attended the Liberty Street flat at 6.30am on New Year's Day but efforts to revive the young woman failed and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

A post mortem examination was conducted at Cork University Hospital (CUH) by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster on Sunday afternoon.

Gardaí have withheld the post mortem findings for operational reasons.

However, it confirmed that Ms Fonseca met a violent death.

Her body was found in an upstairs flat at Liberty Street in Cork city centre just a couple of hours after she had gone out with friends to celebrate New Year's Eve.

The flat involved is located just 100 metres from the Bridewell Garda Station and around the corner from Cork Courthouse on Washington Street.

Ms Fonseca's body was found on a bed in an upstairs bedroom at the flat which is located above Picasso's hair salon.

Gardaí have appointed a family liaison officer to assist her family in Brazil.

The garda investigation includes an analysis of hours of CCTV footage from premises around Cork city centre, door-to-door inquiries and exhaustive forensic tests at the Liberty Street flat where Ms Fonseca's body was discovered.

Social media postings are also set to play a critical role in the garda investigation in terms of tracking Ms Fonseca's last known movements.

In a tribute, both MUH and Bidvest Noonan hailed Ms Fonseca as a diligent worker - and said they were "saddened and shocked" at her death.

"Even though she was only working for a short time for the company at the hospital she was considered a hard and diligent worker and an esteemed colleague. We extend our deepest condolences to her friends in Cork, and her family and friends in Brazil. May she rest in peace."

Ms Fonseca's former partner, Miller Pacheco (29), was charged with her murder before a special sitting of Cork District Court on Monday.

Pacheco - who had an address at Liberty Street in Cork - was remanded in custody to appear again before Cork District Court by video link on January 9.

He did not speak during the brief court hearing.


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