Stormont MLAs stand together for vigil for murdered teacher Ashling Murphy

Before the Assembly resumed business following its recess, MLAs came together today at Stormont for a vigil for murdered teacher Ashling Murphy.

Deputy First Minister Michelle ONeill, First Minister Paul Givan and DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson take part in a silent vigil on the steps of Parliament Buildings, Stormont, for Ashling Murphy who was found dead after going for a run in Co Offaly. Picture date: Monday January 17, 2022.
Deputy First Minister Michelle ONeill, First Minister Paul Givan and DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson take part in a silent vigil on the steps of Parliament Buildings, Stormont, for Ashling Murphy who was found dead after going for a run in Co Offaly. Picture date: Monday January 17, 2022.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson praised the display of unity at Stormont for the vigil.

He said: “It was such a terrible tragedy in a beautiful part of the island and I think it has reminded all of us of the dangers, particularly that women face when they go out and that shouldn’t be the case.

“And I think if any good can come out of this tragic event, this tragic loss of life, it should be that we all redouble our efforts to make our streets and places safer for everyone, but most especially for women.

“It was good to see the unity there around that vigil of people standing together from different political backgrounds, making it very clear that we will not stand for this, and that we must ensure that the laws we pass here at Stormont are fit and suffice to offer the protection that people need.”

UUP leader Doug Beattie said there was a need for societal change: “It was the most terrible murder. 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.

“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.

“We need to address this, society needs to address this, individuals need to address this and we don’t need to have more vigils.

“In fact, we need to have less vigils because if we have less vigils then there’s less women being murdered in our society and that’s what we need to address.”

SF leader Michelle O’Neill said: “There are simply no words to convey the cruelty and injustice of what happened to Ashling, nor the heartbreak and sorrow of her loss. 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.”

Justice Minister Naomi Long said: “I am determined to do everything I can as Justice Minister, but it cannot only be for justice, we must move upstream and do the preventative work that is required to stop women becoming victims of this abuse.”

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon told MLAs that the murder of Ashling Murphy represented an attack on all women.

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