Ashling Murphy vigils held across Ireland as tributes paid to murdered teacher

Martha Fairlie reports for ITV News.

Vigils have taken place across Ireland to remember Ashling Murphy, the young teacher murdered in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

Hundreds gathered outside City Hall, in the centre of Belfast, to pay tribute to the 23-year-old who was attacked while out for a run on Wednesday afternoon.

Stormont deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill was in attendance and said: "We're saying enough is enough.

"It needs to stop - the violence against women and girls needs to stop now.

"Male violence against women and girls needs to stop now. So I think that the sheer fact that right across every town, village and county across this island today people are gathering in large numbers to remember Ashling Murphy shows that women have had enough."

A vigil also took place in Tullamore's town park where music was played by friends of Ashling.

Irish President Michael D Higgins has also paid tribute and said he spoke with her family.

"People throughout Ireland, in every generation, have been expressing their shock, grief, anger and upset at the horrific murder of Ashling Murphy," he said.

Vigil in Co Offaly

"This morning I spoke to Ashling's family to convey, as President on behalf of the people of Ireland, and on behalf of Sabina and myself as parents, my profound sympathy and sorrow and sense of loss that her tragic death has meant to so many, but what in particular it must mean to her mother Kathleen, father Raymond, sister Amy and brother Cathal.

"I sought to convey a sense of how so many parents, families, indeed all of the people of Ireland are thinking of the Murphy family at this very sad time. The loss of Ashling is a loss to all of us, but to her family it is beyond description.

"The outpouring of grief at the death of Ashling shows how we have all been very touched, and it is so exemplary for young and old, to read of all Ashling's accomplishments during her short but brilliant and generous life."

Irish premier Michéal Martin also attended a vigil held outside the Dail. Earlier, he said the murder had united the Irish nation in "solidarity and revulsion".

Meanwhile, Irish police investigating the murder are continuing the hunt for her killer.

Late on Thursday night, gardai released a man they had been questioning over the death stating he was “no longer a suspect”.

On Friday morning they issued a renewed appeal for witnesses and asked anyone with information about a bicycle – a Falcon Storm mountain bike with straight handlebars and distinctive yellow/green front forks – to come forward.

This evening, in an updated statement, they said: "Gardaí continue to investigate the fatal assault on Ashling Murphy that occurred at approximately 4pm on Wednesday, 12th January, 2022, along the canal bank at Cappincur, Tullamore, County Offaly.

Stormont deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill says "women have had enough".

"Significant progress has been made in the investigation to date. An Garda Síochána is not confirming any specific details for operational reasons.

"An Garda Síochána continue to support Ashling's family at this time The Murphy family are appreciative and overwhelmed by the national outpouring of support shown to them. 

"The Murphy family have requested that they now need privacy, space and time to process Ashling's death.

"An Garda Síochána wishes to acknowledge the support of the public to date and in order to assist the public in providing information to the investigation team a dedicated phone line 057 9357060 has been established at Tullamore Garda station.

Image of Falcon Storm mountain bike released by police

"An Garda Síochána continue to appeal to any person who has not made contact with the investigation team and who has any information on this fatal assault to come forward.

"An Garda Síochána continue to appeal for any information on a Falcon Storm mountain bike with straight handlebars and distinctive yellow/ green front forks (image attached) prior to 4pm on Wednesday 12th January 2022 and in the previous days/weeks.

"Gardaí continue to appeal to any persons that were in the Cappincur/ Canal walk area of Tullamore, County Offaly before 4pm, Wednesday, 12th January 2022, to make contact with them.

"Gardaí continue to appeal to any person in and between the Tullamore town centre area and the wider approach roads to The Grand Canal Way in the vicinity of Capincur on the 12th January 2022, with any form of video footage (Dashcam, CCTV, Mobile phone, GoPro Cam etc..), to contact us.

Ashling Murphy Credit: Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann/PA

"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."

The family of Ashling have described her as a “special girl” and a “little angel”.In an interview with the Irish Independent newspaper, her father Raymond said: “She was a great worker, with great drive. A marvelous musician.

“She crammed so much into her short life.”

Her death has sparked widespread anger with thousands taking to social media to highlight how she was only "going for a run" before she was attacked.