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Ashling Murphy: Vigils planned in Northern Ireland after murder of young teacher as she jogged in Offaly

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Ashling Murphy on her graduation day. Credit: Steve Humphreys

Ashling Murphy on her graduation day. Credit: Steve Humphreys

The scene of Ashling's murder on the towpath of the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Credit: Steve Humphreys

The scene of Ashling's murder on the towpath of the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Credit: Steve Humphreys

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Ashling Murphy on her graduation day. Credit: Steve Humphreys

The murder of a young school teacher in the Republic in broad daylight has caused shock and outrage.

Ashling Murphy (23) was beaten to death on Wednesday afternoon in a random attack while out jogging in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

A man in his 40s, who was detained and questioned by the Garda, has been released from custody.

In a statement, Gardai said: “This male has been eliminated from Garda enquiries and is no longer a suspect.”

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon said she was heartbroken for Ms Murphy’s family.

“This could have been any woman, so it represents an attack on every woman,” the North Belfast MLA said.

“If a young girl can’t go out for a jog in the middle of the day in an area surrounded by people, then where can women feel safe?

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“Too many policymakers just don’t understand how oppressive this environment is for so many people. They don’t understand what it’s like to be afraid walking home in the evening, or to worry about who is around when you’re alone in public places. That’s not the kind of Ireland that I want for my children.

“We need to take the plague of violence against women seriously.

“Even in Belfast today there is a threat of closure hanging over our only female-only homeless accommodation for vulnerable women.

“Government needs to get serious about the environment that has been created for women and the kind of society we have created.”

Kellie Turtle of Belfast Feminist Network said it was shocking Ms Murphy was killed in what is deemed a safe and public space, but added: “Men who have violent intentions towards women don’t work on a schedule.

“If somebody is plotting to go out and attack someone, that could happen at any time of the day or night, and a popular running route might seem safe on one hand, but also it could be somewhere that this person has been scoping out, and knows that there are women running alone.

“If we just worry about making sure we do everything perfectly on this checklist in our heads, the problem will never go away until we really address the perpetrator on the other end of the equation.”

She believes police must be proactive, including taking “low level offences” such as flashing and harassment more seriously.

Referring to Wayne Couzens, the Met Police officer who murdered Sarah Everard in England last year, she pointed out a McDonald’s worker said he had flashed them. She slammed police for “not acting quickly enough”, having been given CCTV of that incident three days before the murder.

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The scene of Ashling's murder on the towpath of the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Credit: Steve Humphreys

The scene of Ashling's murder on the towpath of the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Credit: Steve Humphreys

The scene of Ashling's murder on the towpath of the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Credit: Steve Humphreys

Barbara McKeever of Albertville Harriers running club in Belfast said that since she began coaching 12 years ago she had always warned members, particularly women, to never run alone.

“She also urges them to ensure they’re on a well-lit road; to let people know where they’re going; how long they’re going to be; and if running with earphones, to only have one in so that they can hear if someone is coming up behind them.

“Men can be attacked as well if they’re on their own, but it’s more than likely that a woman will be attacked quicker,” she said. “Safety is your first priority when you’re going out yourself.

“If someone had intended to go out and kill anyone, he could have been standing around and waiting to see someone on their own.”

While Ms Turtle believes such precautions are needed, they were “like damage limitation”, adding: “We have to at least do these things until everything is able to change in the long-term.”

Vigils will be held outside Belfast City Hall and at Marcus Square in Derry on Friday at 4pm for Ms Murphy to coincide with other vigils across Ireland.

The PSNI was contacted for comment, and asked if any measures had been put in place to improve women’s safety recently.

It said: “Given that this is occurred in the Republic of Ireland, it would be inappropriate for the PSNI to comment.”


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