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Saturday, 15th January 2022

Drogheda shines a light for Ashling

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Drogheda people, young and old, male and female, turned out in their droves for yesterday's vigil for Ashling Murphy.

 By Andy Spearman

The people of Drogheda turned out in their thousands yesterday evening to express their revulsion at the slaying of Ashling Murphy on the banks of the Grand Canal near Tullamore on Wednesday.

Like the rest of the country, Drogheda has been shocked to the core by the brutal and seemingly random murder of a beautiful young woman.

That a young woman, seemingly loved and admired by all who knew her, could be so brutally struck down whilst out for a run is deeply distressing. It goes against everything that we hold dear.

Anyone who could commit such a heinous crime must surely have severe mental problems. Nobody is born that evil but, sadly our mental health services are woefully underfunded. But that is an argument for another day.

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As the father of another beautiful young Irish woman, I can’t even begin to understand the horror and torment that Ashling’s family must be going through.

I doubt that many of us can.

All we can do as individuals is to stand together in solidarity with Ashling’s family at this dreadful time.

When this terrible crime is solved and the culprit caught and dealt with, we must have a long think about where we go from here.

Ashling’s murder must be a turning point for this country. We have reached the absolute bottom of a very dark hole and we must somehow find the strength and courage to create a society where everyone’s safety and dignity is sacrosanct.

Thankfully such random acts of violence are rare, but violence perpetrated by men on women certainly is not. In the vast majority of cases of gender-based violence the perpetrator is known to the victim.

Sadly this “domestic” violence is rampant at the moment as a result of us all being cooped up together because of the coronavirus.

There are also many women in Drogheda who are living in fear of the brutal gangs operating in our town and housing estates. The Gardaí are doing a great job in rounding up the low lifes but there is an understandable fear among people of passing information to help the Guards in their task.

Hopefully the Board tasked with implementing the many recommendations in the Gieran Report will go a long way to solving many of the social problems afflicting Drogheda but they have a big job of work ahead of them.

Meanwhile the Garda investigation into this horrible murder is continuing and the Garda Press Office says that significant progress has been made thanks to the co-operation of the public.

Similarly, the Murphy family say they are appreciative and overwhelmed by the national outpouring of support shown to them but have requested that they now need privacy, space and time to process Ashling's death.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Tullamore Garda Station on 057 9357060, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.

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