The murder of a young teacher out for a run in Ireland has caused outrage and heartbreak

The brutal attack has once again sparked outrage about the pervasive nature of male violence against women.

Women’s rights activists and campaign groups have expressed their sadness and anger at the death of 23-year-old Ashling Murphy, a primary school teacher who was attacked and killed just outside the city of Tullamore, Ireland, on Wednesday.

Murphy – who was out for a jog at the time of the incident – was attacked at around 4pm along the banks of the city’s Grand Canal. Gardaí (Irish police) said Murphy had sustained “serious injuries” and was treated by medics at the scene, but died a short time later.

The suspect – who police believe was a stranger to Murphy – is said to have fled the scene when two women came across the attack and raised the alarm.  

A man in his 40s has since been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody, and a team of more than 50 officers has been assigned to the investigation.

Speaking at a press conference from the scene, Superintendent Eamonn Curley said “no stone will be left unturned” in the effort to bring Murphy’s attacker to justice.

While Curley told reporters it is currently believed that the crime was committed “by one male who acted alone,” he said Gardaí were keeping an “open mind” and appealed to witnesses. He also confirmed that Murphy had sustained injuries “consistent with an assault” and that a post-mortem examination had been carried out to determine the exact cause of her death.

He concluded: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Ashling’s family at this time and indeed the wider community, her teaching colleagues and her children who are without their teacher today.” 

People who knew Murphy have paid tributes to the young woman, with her former teacher at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick calling the killing “tragic and senseless”.

“Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to her family, friends, colleagues and pupils,” said MIC president Eugene Wall. “The entire MIC community is heartbroken and shocked to the core.”

Murphy’s murder has also prompted tributes from women’s rights activists and politicians, and sparked further outcry about the issue of male violence against women.

“The whole country is shocked and devastated at the horrific murder of Ashling Murphy while going for a run,” said Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill. “Her family, friends, colleagues and the children she taught are in our thoughts this morning. Violence against women and girls must be stopped.” 

In a statement, Sarah Benson, CEO of Irish Women’s Aid, said: “The killing of women is the extreme end of a spectrum of violence and abuse that women in Ireland and across the world experience every day. 

“The appalling murder of Ashling Murphy, a young woman in County Offaly yesterday, is a shocking example of the dangers posed to women by violent men. We offer our sincere condolences to Ashling’s family, friends and community.” 

Many people have also been taking to Twitter to share their condolences, including women’s rights activist Gina Martin and author Louise O’Neill.  

The National Women’s Council of Ireland is organising a vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside the Dáil Éireann in Dublin on Friday at 4pm.

Victim Support is an independent charity that provides practical and emotional support to victims of all crimes, including sexual assault and harassment. For help and information you can contact the charity’s free 24/7 Support line number on 0808 16 89 111 or seek support via the website: victimsupport.org.uk.

With the support of more than 60 experts and public figures, Stylist is calling on the government to launch a long-term public awareness campaign about male violence against women – aimed directly at men. Find out more about our call for #AFearlessFuture

Image: Jessica Girvan / EyeEm for Getty

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