Violence against women and girls is a scourge on society, the brother of murder victim Natalie McNally has told a rally in her memory.
More than 1,000 people attended the vigil in Lurgan Park in Co Armagh, which also called for an end to all violence against women.
Ms McNally, who was 32 years old and 15 weeks pregnant, was fatally stabbed on December 18th in her home in Silverwood Green, Co Armagh.
Despite a number of police appeals and several arrests, nobody has yet been charged over her death.
Police have so far carried out hundreds of house-to-house inquiries and seized more than 4,000 hours of CCTV footage.
The rally was organised by the National Women’s Council (NWC) and was attended by Ms McNally’s parents Noel and Bernie and her brothers Brendan, Niall and Declan.
[ Natalie McNally’s parents: ‘I just keep thinking, did she plead for her life or her baby’s life’ ]
A number of politicians were in attendance, including Sinn Féin’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill.
Many of those in attendance carried placards reading: “Justice for Natalie”, and “She was only at home”, while a number wore pink or blue items of clothing in memory of the mother-to-be.
Brendan McNally told the rally that his sister was an inspiration to other women.
He said: “Natalie was a remarkable person. From the age of three she lived with type one diabetes.
“However, it remains a testament to her character that she was never restrained in what she wanted to achieve in life.
“She was delighted to be becoming a mother for the first time. For any young person living with diabetes in Northern Ireland, Natalie is an ideal inspiration.”
Mr McNally added: “Violence against women and girls is one of the great scourges of our society.
“This is no basis for a shared future.
“The time has long come for us to recognise that we cannot rest until the perpetual assaults against women are ended for good.”
Another brother, Declan McNally, then introduced a video montage showing excerpts from Ms McNally’s life.
He said: “This video is a montage of memories of Natalie and this was put together by Natalie’s loving partner.
“Please keep Natalie’s partner in your thoughts and prayers.
“This is how we want Natalie to be remembered: A beautiful, fun-loving person.”
Ms McNally’s parents said that they were hopeful the rally would prick the conscience of someone who has information about their daughter’s murder.
“We want Natalie’s memory to go forward and to be remembered, and to remember all the women who have died,” Bernie McNally said.
“She was a living her best life, that is what we want to remember in all this grief and sadness.”
Noel McNally said: “It is very frustrating but we know the police are doing everything.
“They are throwing everything they have. We have every confidence they will catch this person.”
Rachel Coyle, head of campaigns and mobilisation at the National Women’s Council, said the rally was an opportunity for society to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the McNally family.
“We are in awe of their determination to find justice,” Ms Coyle said
“More than that, Natalie is the 16th woman who was murdered in similar circumstances last year.
“That is why we are here to continue to campaign for an end to violence against women.
“I live here in Lurgan. Women are afraid that this person has not been caught. This is a reality for women.”
[ Jennifer O'Connell: 2022 felt like a particularly dark and dangerous period to be a woman ]
The rally came as police renewed their appeal to find Ms McNally’s killer.
Senior investigating PSNI officer detective chief inspector Neil McGuinness said: “We are continuing to investigate the horrific murder of Natalie, who was 15 weeks’ pregnant.
“We are committed to finding answers for Natalie’s heartbroken family.
“It is shocking that the mother-to-be was brutally murdered in her own home, which should have been a place of safety for her.
“I would like to pay tribute to the continued fortitude of Natalie’s family and thank them for all they are doing to support our investigation.
“The deaths of Natalie and her unborn baby have caused them unimaginable heartache.
“Not only are they trying to come to terms with the death of their only daughter and sister, they are also grieving the loss of Natalie’s baby boy, who they have named Dean.
“Natalie’s killer robbed all of them of meeting Dean and watching him grow up as part of their loving family.
“I would also like to thank the community of Lurgan and beyond for their support and for all the information people have brought to police. Please keep it coming.”
Mr McGuinness said police released CCTV footage in connection with the investigation and “efforts to identify the man in this footage remain continuing”.
“It shows the suspect arriving at Silverwood Green that night at 8.52pm, and then the same figure walking away at 9.30pm,” Mr McGuinness said.
“Please remember, this was the night of Sunday 18th December – that’s the same day as the World Cup Final.
“I’m asking you to cast your mind back to that Sunday.
“If you witnessed anything untoward – no matter how insignificant it may seem – or if you have captured dash cam or CCTV footage, please get in touch.
“We are continuing to progress our extensive investigation, in which we’ve already carried out hundreds of house-to-house inquiries and seized over 4,000 hours of CCTV footage.
“I would like to remind people of the reward of up to £20,000 (€22,800) from CrimeStoppers, who are a charity and independent of the police. It is being offered for information given directly to CrimeStoppers that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Natalie’s murder.”
“I am appealing to anyone who noticed someone they know acting strangely that night to come and speak to us. Maybe you recognise the rucksack or noticed that a rucksack was missing for a period of time or indeed is still missing. The suspect captured in the CCTV footage has an unusual gait.
“We remain absolutely determined to bring him to justice for this horrific murder. Please contact police on 101 with any information at all no matter how insignificant you think it is.” – PA