A man attempted to disrupt an online vigil held for Ashling Murphy, who was killed in Tullamore, Co Offaly, last week, by exposing himself and appearing to masturbate on camera.
The online vigil was organised on the Zoom video call platform, and attended by around 90 women on Sunday evening.
During the event, a man joined the Zoom call, falsely using the name of one of the event’s organisers, through a link to the event which was posted on social media.
On the video call the man exposed himself and appeared to masturbate for several minutes, before he was removed from the online event, one attendee said.
The man, whose face was not visible on his camera, then attempted to re-join the Zoom call several times, and was quickly removed again each time.
The virtual event was organised for people who were at high-risk from Covid-19 infection and others unable to attend in-person vigils.
Several women gave speeches at the event, including singer Emma Langford, Traveller activist Rose Marie Maughan, and poet Kathy D’Arcy.
The organisers reported the incident to Zoom, requesting information from the video call platform about the account used by the man.
A number of women who attended the virtual event are also planning to report the matter to An Garda Síochána.
The incident, has been widely condemned. Labour TD Aodhan O Riordain said: “Last night a group of women organised an online vigil, in honour of a woman who was killed last week, on a canal bank named after a missing woman and they still weren’t safe.
“We have deep problems. The first step is to accept that. For men in particular to accept that.”
A spokesman for Zoom said: “This incident is truly devastating and appalling, and Zoom condemns such behaviour in the strongest possible terms. “Our user policies explicitly prohibit any obscene, indecent, illegal or violent activity or content on the platform, and we are looking into this specific incident to ensure Zoom takes any appropriate actions.
“We have a number of default settings to help secure meetings at the outset and features to help hosts more easily access in-meeting security controls, lock meetings, as well as remove and report participants, among other actions.
“We have also been educating users on security best practices for setting up their meetings, including recommending that users never share private meeting links and passwords publicly on websites, social media or other public forums, and encouraging anyone hosting large-scale or public events to utilise Zoom’s webinar solution.
“We take meeting disruptions extremely seriously and where appropriate, we work closely with law enforcement authorities.
“We encourage users to report any incidents of this kind to Zoom and law enforcement authorities so the appropriate action can be taken against offenders.”
Scores of vigils have been held across Ireland, and a number of other cities around the world, following the killing of Ms Murphy, a 23-year-old teacher, who was killed while jogging along a canal bank in Tullamore last Wednesday.
–Additional reporting PA