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Vigils are to be held in Ireland after the “senseless” killing of a 23-year-old teacher, with echoes of the national reckoning that was sparked in the UK last year by the murder of Sarah Everard.
Ashling Murphy was killed in broad daylight on Wednesday afternoon while going for a run along the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore in County Offaly.
The killing has provoked an outpouring of grief on the island of Ireland and beyond, as well as anger and revulsion at another young woman allegedly murdered while going about her business in public.
Irish police had arrested and detained a man but he has since been released. “This male has been eliminated from Garda enquiries and is no longer a suspect,” a Garda Síochána spokesperson told the Irish News. Police promised to leave “no stone unturned” in bringing the killer to justice.
Murphy was a teacher at Durrow national school and a musician. Her father, Raymond, told the Mirror: “She was just a special girl. She’s the youngest, a little angel. She was a brilliant girl in every sense of the word.”
Rallies and vigils will be staged across Ireland and the UK over the weekend, including in Dublin, Limerick, Belfast, Derry and London, with thousands expected to attend. Senior politicians expressed their alarm and solidarity.
In London, a vigil will be held at the London Irish Centre in Camden Town on Saturday at 4pm.
“My thoughts tonight are with the family of the young woman killed in a truly shocking crime, with her friends and with her community,” Helen McEntee, Ireland’s minister for justice, said on Twitter. “The gardaí will investigate this awful crime and ensure justice is done.”
“The whole country is shocked and devastated at the horrific murder of … Ashling Murphy while going for a run. Her family, friends, colleagues and the children she taught are in our thoughts this morning,” Michelle O’Neill, Stormont’s deputy first minister, said on Twitter. “Violence against women and girls must be stopped.”
Murphy’s mother, Kathleen, told the Mirror: “The last thing she’d say in the morning going out was ‘Mam, I love you’.”
The killing follows the conviction of Wayne Couzens for the kidnap, rape and murder of Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, as she walked home in March last year. Couzens, who at the time of the crime was a serving Metropolitan police officer, was sentenced to life in prison.
Last month, Koci Selamaj accepted responsibility for the death of the 28-year-old schoolteacher Sabina Nessa in London in September. She was found dead a day after leaving her home to meet a friend in a nearby bar. Selamaj pleaded not guilty to her murder and the trial is continuing.
“There must be zero tolerance for any violence against women,” Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, said on Twitter. “Truly devastating & senseless. Every effort is being made to make sure justice is served.”
“It’s frightening that news has emerged of another woman who has been brutally murdered here on our island,” said Nichola Mallon, the SDLP’s deputy leader and Stormont’s minister for infrastructure. “This is why women right across our island don’t feel safe.”
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