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


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he murder of 23-year-old teacher Ashling Murphy has ‘united the nation in solidarity and revulsion’, the Prime Minister of Ireland has said.

His comments came as Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister said society was facing an “epidemic of violence against women”, with senior politicians promising that all resources of the Irish police would be available to bring the killer to justice.

Gardai continues the hunt for the murderer of the young teacher, who was found dead on Wednesday after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

Taoiseach Michael Martin (AP) / PA wire

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

“I have always been of the opinion that a national schoolteacher, since the beginning of the state, has been the foundation on which our society has been built.

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

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

He added: “No stone will be left unturned in completing this investigation and bringing the person responsible to justice.”

The Taoiseach said a new national strategy being developed to tackle sexual, domestic and gender-based violence in Ireland will take a “zero tolerance” approach.

“There must be a broad societal approach and an awareness that there must be zero tolerance for any form of violence,” he said.

Mr Martin said he spoke to the Murphy family.

“I just wanted, like everyone across the country, on behalf of the people, to express our solidarity with them and our devastation. The fact that a beautiful young woman was removed from their lives,” he said.

“I can say without hesitation that every effort will be made to bring this person to justice and keep people safe in the meantime.”

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

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

He said tackling gender-based violence had been a priority for the Irish government for “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 government alone.

“We as a society have to deal with this. There is an epidemic of violence against women. This has been going on for millennia, quite frankly.

Ashling Murphy was attacked while running near a canal (Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann/PA) / PA wire

“Men and boys, I think, have a particular responsibility to start having this conversation between us about the kind of factors, the kind of attitudes, that bring up feelings that lead men to commit acts of violence against the women.

“I hope that by shedding light on gender-based violence, it helps us to have this discussion in society and make things better.

“But I’m aware that, you know, it’s only been a year since Sarah Everard was killed in the UK, it’s been a year since a woman from Mongolia was killed by a 15-year-old boy, going about her his normal business in Dublin, so these things happen too often.

“We will do what we can as a government, we will continue this investment, but I also think that as a society we also have a responsibility, and especially men, boys and adolescents.”

Mr Varadkar continued: “I know the people of Tullamore must be very concerned at this time because the killer is still at large and I want to assure people that all the resources of the gardai are devoted to making sure that this person is found.”

Earlier, Justice Minister Helen McEntee promised that “all resources” would be provided to Gardai in the investigation.

Garda are carrying out surveys on the Grand Canal in Tullamore, County Offaly (Damien Eagers/PA) / PA wire

On Friday, Ms McEntee tweeted: ‘All resources will be provided to An Garda Siochana to find who murdered Ashling Murphy. It is vital that we support all Gardai in their work.

She urged anyone with information to contact Gardai.

The killing has sparked widespread outpourings of grief and anger, with vigils planned in towns and villages across Ireland on Friday and for days to come.

A vigil was held in Tullamore on Friday, with a book of condolences opened online.

On Friday, Gardai issued a new appeal for witnesses and asked anyone with information about a bike — a Falcon Storm mountain bike with straight handlebars and a distinctive yellow/green front fork — to come forward.

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

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

Donal Farrelly, who represented the man during his two-day interrogation, condemned those who tried to identify him on social media.

Mr Varadkar, asked about Mr Farrelly’s comments, said it would be a “serious” problem if any information about the man leaked out.

He said any such allegation could be investigated by the gardai or the garda ombudsman.

The town of Tullamore is still reeling from the death of Ms Murphy, who was described as a ‘special girl’ and a ‘little angel’ by her family.

In an interview with the Irish Independent newspaper, her father Raymond said: “She was a hard worker, with a lot of drive. A wonderful musician.

“She’s crammed so much in her short life.”

Those who knew her described her as a gifted musician who was appreciated by her students.

The crime has sparked anger and grief, nationally and internationally (Brian Lawless/PA) / PA wire

Several hundred people attended a vigil in his memory in Galway on Thursday, many with flowers and candles.

Vigils were also held in Dublin and Belfast, with the impact of the attack being felt on both sides of the Irish border.

It is believed that around 50 officers are working on the investigation and a post-mortem examination has been carried out.

The route along the Grand Canal is often very busy and is a popular place for walkers and joggers.

Floral tributes were left outside the gates of Durrow National School, where Ms Murphy taught and on Friday the school paid her another tribute.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the school said it was “completely devastated by the passing of our dear colleague and friend”.

“Ashling was a very professional and talented young teacher. We are deeply saddened by his tragic loss. Our thoughts are also with his beloved family at this sad time.

Manager James Hogan told RTE radio on Thursday that Ms Murphy was a ‘shining light who put a smile on everyone’s face’.

He added: “Ashling was a shining light for the children and a very professional and talented young teacher.

“She has been an inspiration to so many, not just in our school, but throughout the schools community.”

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