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Vigil held on steps of Stormont for murder victim Ashling Murphy

A vigil was held on the steps of Stormont on Monday in remembrance of 23-year-old Ashling Murphy, who was murdered in Co Offaly last week.

MLAs returning from the Christmas recess were joined by DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, as well as SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.

Ms Murphy, who was a primary school teacher, was murdered at around 4pm on Wednesday as she went for a run alongside the Grand Canal near Tullamore, Co Offaly.

Vigils took place across Ireland and beyond on Friday and Saturday in memory of Ms Murphy.

Hundreds of people stood in solidarity at the gates of Belfast City Hall on Friday as a mark of respect.

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First Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill were also in attendance on Monday as politicians gathered in front of a portrait of Ms Murphy and a bunch of flowers.

Speaking in the Assembly, Ms O’Neill said domestic, sexual and gender-based violence is an epidemic, as she paid tribute to Ms Murphy.

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MLAs held a vigil on the steps of Stormont on Monday in remembrance of Ashling Murphy. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.

MLAs held a vigil on the steps of Stormont on Monday in remembrance of Ashling Murphy. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.

MLAs held a vigil on the steps of Stormont on Monday in remembrance of Ashling Murphy. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.

“Ashling Murphy was 23,” she said. “She was attacked and killed while out running in Tullamore, County Offaly.

“There are simply no words to convey the cruelty and injustice of what happened to Ashling, nor the heartbreak and sorrow of her loss.

“Our hearts go out to her family and all who loved her.

“Regretfully the truth is violence against women and girls, the threat of violence against women and girls, the fear of violence against women and girls is all too common.

“Domestic, sexual and gender-based violence is an epidemic.”

Mr Givan added that men need to step up to challenge of abusive behaviour towards women and girls.

“All of us have come together in the past number of days to show our revulsion for what has happened to Ashling Murphy and to stand in support of Ashling and her family,” he told MLAs

"We are struck by the last words Ashling said to her mum, 'Mam, I love you', before she left.

"As a father of three daughters I know last night when I was in Lisburn and we held a vigil, I was thinking about them.

"I was thinking about the type of society that they are growing up in, and when they get to that age they should feel safe, they be respected, they should not be objectified.

"They should not have to suffer the kind of bad behaviour which often is directed at women and girls.

"We all must take personal responsibility to change our society.

"Men need to step up and challenge this type of behaviour.”

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon said the murder represented an attack on all women.

"In this modern world, the fact that women are not safe is terrifying,” she stated.

"We must, as political leaders here across these islands, band together to end this violence.”

UUP leader Doug Beattie said there was a need for societal change.

"Sadly, this is all too often in our society today that our women and young girls no longer feel safe and there's a real danger out there and we must address this real danger,” he said.

"It's wonderful to see the outpouring of grief in regards to this terrible murder but that's not good enough, it's simply not good enough that a young woman can go out jogging in the middle of the day and be murdered in such a brutal way and that's happening more and more.

“Maybe it doesn't end up in a murder, but it's certainly ending up in other crimes against women and young girls.”


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