‘Every single one of us must call out misogyny’, vigil for Ashling Murphy hears

Poems and songs performed in memory of music teaching graduate at her former college

Students, staff and members of the public attend the evening of remembrance for Ashling Murphy at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, on Monday evening. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Students, staff and members of the public attend the evening of remembrance for Ashling Murphy at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, on Monday evening. Photograph: Eamon Ward

 

The Minister for Further and Higher Education told a vigil on Monday in memory of teacher Ashling Murphy, and attended by her heartbroken family, that politicians, particularly men, need to stand up and take action against misogyny and violence against women.

Minister Simon Harris told thousands of people gathered with candles on the grounds of Ms Murphy’s alma mater, Mary Immaculate College (MIC), Limerick: “I wanted to be here because I’m a man, a father, and a politician, and I know that our gender, and our profession, need to do better, we need to do much more.”

Ashling Murphy: The vigil heard the MIC graduate’s killing had ‘sent shockwaves throughout the entire nation and abroad’.
Ashling Murphy: The vigil heard the MIC graduate’s killing had ‘sent shockwaves throughout the entire nation and abroad’.

“As fathers of young sons, we have a duty in how we raise them, in how we ensure they are part of a cultural change; as politicians we have got to change the system.”

This change, the Minister affirmed, included his “duty to ensure that third level is safe, and that every single one of us, as men, must call out misogyny and we must stand up and speak out”.

Mr Harris became emotional as he encouraged those of Ms Murphy’s generation and future generations of women and men who he said “demand action for Ashling”, to keep shouting for change.

Allies

Mr Harris offered that politicians, including himself, “must be allies in that cause, and work with you to champion and to deliver that in every possible way we can”.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said: ‘I wanted to be here because I’m a man, a father, and a politician, and I know that our gender, and our profession, need to do better, we need to do much more.’ Photograph: Eamon Ward
Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said: ‘I wanted to be here because I’m a man, a father, and a politician, and I know that our gender, and our profession, need to do better, we need to do much more.’ Photograph: Eamon Ward

“So, tonight here we all commit to action for Ashling, because we owe it to her, we owe it to her beautiful family, and we owe it to you,” Mr Harris added.

President of MIC, Professor Eugene Wall, fought back tears as he welcomed Ms Murphy’s parents Kathleen and Raymond, sister Amy, brother Cathal, and her boyfriend Ryan, to the college where, “almost four months ago on this day, Ashling emerged, happily clutching her degree parchment having realised her long held ambition to become a primary teacher”.

‘All she ever wanted to do was to become a teacher, which she was born to do.’ Students and staff participate in the evening of remembrance for Ashling Murphy. Photograph: Eamon Ward
‘All she ever wanted to do was to become a teacher, which she was born to do.’ Students and staff participate in the evening of remembrance for Ashling Murphy. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Mr Wall said the MIC graduate’s killing had “sent shockwaves throughout the entire nation and abroad”.

MIC Chaplain, Fr Michael Wall, said the killing which occurred in daylight on a public walkway as Ms Murphy was simply out enjoying a jog, had presented a national outpouring of “confusion, anxiety, sadness, anger, and upheaval” and that women, particularly, were suffering “with a range of fears and anxieties and worries”.

Fr Wall said while there had been “various calls for change” he hoped for direction and wisdom “for our leaders, our politicians, our legislators, our law enforcement people, our leaders and influencers, to make decisions that will lead to a better life for all”.

The Mayor of Limerick, Fine Gael Cllr Daniel Butler, said that it was up to political leaders like himself “to make decisions, and, to make sure that (Ashling’s) loss is not a futile one”.

Mayor Butler added: “I know us - as men - must do better, and will do better.”

Dearest friend

Maura Murray, a classmate from Tullamore, and who went on to study at MIC with Ms Murphy, fought back tears paying a heartfelt tribute to “our dearest friend ‘Ash’”.

“All she ever wanted to do was to become a teacher, which she was born to do. Ashling loved her walks, the fresh air, being surrounded by nature, she had so many plans, we will keep (her) in our hearts and minds... forever, fly high with the angels,” she added.

People hold up candles at a vigil for Ashling Murphy at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, on Monday evening. Photograph: Eamon Ward
People hold up candles at a vigil for Ashling Murphy at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, on Monday evening. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Poems, as well as traditional Irish tunes and Irish folk songs were played from a stage erected on the grounds of the college, in front of a sea of candlelight that shone in the darkness, in memory of the music teaching graduate who was an accomplished musician.

Dr Ailbhe Kenny, who taught Ms Murphy at MIC, told those gathered at the vigil not to let fear of violence perpetrated by men against women to poison their right to walk, run, and enjoy their lives and freedom: “Do not allow fear, anger, grief, or sadness, ever get in the way of any of that.”