Vigils in remembrance of Ashling Murphy have been planned for numerous sites around Ireland on Friday as public outrage grows following her killing.
Just hours after a gathering outside the Dáil in Dublin was announced by the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) on Thursday, parallel events were being arranged in at least eight other towns and cities.
Orla O’Connor, director of the NWCI, said that while the Dublin vigil was primarily about showing support for Ms Murphy’s family, it would also provide an opportunity for a public expression of anger and to refocus the need to address gender-based violence.
“So many people have been in contact with the National Women’s Council since last night expressing their shock, their devastation, and feeling they want to do something,” she said. “It’s really steamrolled since then and now there are vigils being organised all around the country.”
Several hundred people attended a vigil in Galway on Thursday night. Many in the crowd brought flowers and candles to the vigil, at which they heard calls for a society-wide discussion to combat abuse against women.
Timed to coincide with the attack on Ms Murphy, which took place at about 4pm on Wednesday, similar events are due to take place in Tullamore Town Park in Offaly, as well as in Limerick, Cork, Carlow, Clonmel, Nenagh, Belfast and Derry.
Ms Murphy’s death prompted an extensive social media response, much of it focusing on the threat regularly faced by women. One video showing a woman being harassed by men in daily life had been viewed over four million times.
“This has really hit a nerve,” Ms O’Connor said. “I don’t want to say I’m surprised but the amount of people who have contacted us, I haven’t seen something like this since Savita Halipanavar”, whose death in hospital in 2012 sparked a massive public outcry.
“There [Ashling] was, doing such a normal every day thing, going for a jog in broad daylight . . . the vast majority of women who are murdered, [it] is by someone they know. I suppose what has happened to Ashling, there is added shock. It’s so random.”
Ms O’Connor noted that in the coming weeks the Government is due to publish a new strategy on violence against women, and said she was encouraged by the focus of Minister for Justice Helen McEntee on the wider issues.
On Thursday, Ms McEntee repeated the same point made by so many others – that Ms Murphy had gone running in broad daylight, in a public area that was generally considered safe.
“And yet this has happened to her,” she said. “This is why it is every woman’s worst nightmare and every family’s worst nightmare. But more generally the issue that we now face around women feeling safe, we need to make sure that we listen to this, that we take all of this on board, that as a society we come together to deal with this issue.”
Safe Ireland, the national co-ordination body with responsibility for Domestic Violence, has called for “an immediate public and political response to the ever-increasing rates of violence against women”. – Additional reporting: PA