Thursday, January 20, 2022

The murder of a young teacher has united Ireland in ‘solidarity and revulsion’

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The murder of 23-year-old teacher Ashling Murphy has “united the nation in solidarity and revulsion,” the Irish Prime Minister has said.

His comments came as Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister said society was facing an “epidemic of violence against women”, with senior politicians pledging the full resources of Ireland’s police force are at their disposal to bring the killer to justice.

Gardai are continuing the hunt for the killer of the young teacher, who was found dead on Wednesday after walking along the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said on Friday: “It is a very poignant and a very sad moment in the affairs of our nation when a young talented musician’s life was violently taken a few days ago and our hearts and thoughts go out to the Murphy family, with her community, family and friends, and especially the young students who would no doubt have looked forward to Ashling’s presence in the classroom, music or physical education classes, and the broader curriculum.

“I have always believed that a national school teacher has been the foundation on which our society has been built since the dawn of the state.

“And in many ways, Ashling Murphy represented and embodied the very best of this tradition of national teaching.

“I think it united the nation in solidarity and disgust at what happened.”

He added: “No stone is left unturned to bring this investigation to a close and bring the person responsible to justice.”

Ms. Murphy’s death sparked a new debate about the safety of women in Ireland, with many wondering how such an attack could have happened in broad daylight.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said Friday he was devastated by the murder.

He said tackling gender-based violence has been a priority for the Irish government “for quite some time”.

“But it can’t just be the government,” he added at a press conference in Co Kildare.

“Government must lead, but it cannot be just government.

“We as a society have to face that. There is an epidemic of violence against women. It’s been going on for millennia, to be honest.

“I think men and boys in particular have a responsibility to have that conversation among themselves about the kind of factors, the kind of attitudes that create feelings that drive men to commit acts of violence against women.

“I hope it could help us to have that discussion in society and make things better by shining a light on gender-based violence.

“But I am aware that it has only been a year since Sarah Everard was killed in the UK, it has been a year since a Mongolian woman was killed by a 15-year-old boy just going about his business Dublin, so these things just happen too often.

“We’re going to do what we can as government, we’re going to continue that investment, but I also think we have a responsibility as a society too, and especially men, boys and teenagers.”

Mr Varadkar continued: “I know the people of Tullamore must be very concerned at the moment because the killer is still at large and I would like to reassure people that all of the Gardai’s resources are being used to ensure that that person is found.”

Earlier, Attorney General Helen McEntee promised to provide gardai with “every resource” in the investigation.

On Friday, Ms McEntee tweeted: “All resources are being made available to Garda Siochana to find out who murdered Ashling Murphy. It is important that we all support the Gardai in their work.”

She urged anyone with information to get in touch with Gardai.

The killing has sparked widespread outbursts of grief and anger, with vigils planned in towns and cities across Ireland for Friday and in the coming days.

A vigil was organized in Tullamore on Friday, during which a book of condolences was opened online.

On Friday, Gardai issued a renewed appeal for witnesses, asking anyone who might have information about a bike — a Falcon Storm mountain bike with straight handlebars and distinctive yellow/green front forks — to come forward.

On Thursday, officers released a man they questioned, saying he was “no longer a suspect.”

The man’s lawyer told the PA news agency that his “life had been ruined”.

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