Murder of primary school teacher ‘has had a chilling effect on women across Ireland’
The murder of a young primary school teacher, attacked while jogging, has had a chilling effect on women right across the island of Ireland according to the SDLP’s Nichola Mallon.
The Stormont Infrastructure Minister spoke out about violence against women after 22-year-old Ashling Murphy was murdered in broad daylight.
The primary school teacher from Tullamore, Co Offaly, died after being attacked while she was jogging along a canal bank at around 4pm on Wednesday.
Ms Mallon said women across the island feel unsafe from the threat of violence in their own communities.
She said: “My heart is breaking for Ashling Murphy’s family today.
“She had her whole life ahead of her, a new graduate with so many talents, a great love of music and so much to offer her friends, family and community.
“What makes this murder so frightening is the casual violence in broad daylight in an area busy with people out for exercise.
“This could have been any woman so it represents an attack on every woman.
“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?
The north Belfast MLA added: “Too many policy makers 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.
“We need to take the plague of violence against women seriously. Government needs to get serious about the environment that has been created for women and the kind of society we have created.”
Gardai investigating the suspected murder say “no stone will be left unturned” in bringing her killer to justice.
A 40-year-old man has been arrested and is being detained at Tullamore Garda Station.
Superintendent Eamonn Curley told reporters on Thursday: “This area here, where the crime occurred, is popular among Tullamore residents and is widely used for recreational purposes.
“Our prayers are with Ashling’s family at this time and indeed the wider community, her teaching colleagues, and the children she taught who are without their teacher today.
“Immediately following the discovery of this crime, a full-scale murder investigation was launched.”
Mr Curley said: “At this stage, there is no information that the victim and her killer were known to each other.
“From our enquiries we have carried out, we believe this crime was committed by one male who acted alone.”
Mr Curley said gardai retain an “open mind”, appealed to the public for assistance, and asked any witnesses to come forward.
Ms Murphy died after being attacked while she was jogging along the canal bank at Cappincur at around 4pm.
Declan Harvey, Fianna Fail councillor for the area, said: “I want to extend my sympathies to Ashling’s father, mother and all her extended family.
“I am devastated. I couldn’t sleep last night thinking of it all because it is a place I go all the time.
“She went there jogging, she does it regularly. I am lost for words.”
Mr Harvey said it is a route that he and his family often walk.
“Tullamore is probably the safest place in the world, and after yesterday people will be nervous to go down to the canal,” he added.
“It’s a lovely area and helps clear your head. It’s a very popular route that everyone takes. People walk their dogs, people with their kids and prams.”
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