HUNDREDS of people turned out in Dundalk’s Market Square for the vigil held in memory of teacher Ashling Murphy who was murdered last week while out jogging.
The event – which was organised by Dundalk community groups on Friday, January 14 at 7pm – saw local councillors hold a moment of candle-lit silence.
Dundalk Women’s Aid Services Manager Ann Larkin said: “A beautiful and treasured young woman’s life was taken from her by the actions of a perpetrator of violence; one person’s actions stole this young woman’s life from her and her from her family.
“The taking of this young woman’s life has ignited something the length and breadth of Ireland.
“People have come out in their droves to stand with the family and against the violence that took her from them”.
Ann added: “This could have happened in any Irish town or village, it could have been on the Navvy Bank or the River Walk here in Dundalk, it could have been any of our daughters, sisters, nieces, mothers, friends or colleagues.
“Indeed, it has over the years been other families experience, our own community is no stranger to the violent death of women.
“There’s a sense of helplessness and hopelessness across the whole country this week, people are shell shocked, some speechless, some vocal, some afraid, some only now hearing about what it’s like to be a woman in their town or village.”
She concluded: “Questions are being asked about what can be done to make the world safer for women and children? There is much that needs to be done but it will take all of us to make it happen.”
Grace McArdle of Rape Crisis Centre North East said: “The vigil was very well put together. Ashling Murphy’s death hit everybody.
“We can all relate to knowing someone Ashling’s age. I’ve three kids and I run myself. The Government needs to step up; something clearly needs to change.
“We need a clear strategy to tackle gender-based violence. Ashling was jogging in daylight, living her life and should have had the freedom to do it. It was cruelly taken away from her.”
Bernadine Quinn of Dundalk Outcomers said: “Zoe Conway and John McIntyre played at the vigil and they did a lovely rendition of Mna na hEireann.
“The vigil showed Dundalk in its best light. Ashling’s death was such a tragedy and I hope it’s a watershed moment.”