Vigils held in memory of Ashling Murphy; Gardaí identify new 'person of interest' 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was among those who gathered outside the Dáil on Friday, and staff at Cork City Hall lit candles in memory of the murdered teacher. 
Vigils held in memory of Ashling Murphy; Gardaí identify new 'person of interest' 

People leave messages of condolences on a board pictured this evening at a vigil for Ashling Murphy at Tullamore Town Park... Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Vigils have taken place across the island of Ireland to remember murdered teacher Ashling Murphy.

Gardaí are continuing the hunt for the killer of the 23-year-old, who was found dead on Wednesday after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

Gardaí have identified a second man they want to talk to in relation to the murder of Ashling Murphy, according to the Irish Examiner. 

Officers are not formally labelling him a suspect as of yet, but rather a “person of interest” in relation to the investigation.

Another man who had been questioned was released late on Thursday night, with Gardaí stating he is 'no longer a person of interest'. 

Thousands of people gathered in the late afternoon in Tullamore, Cork, Dublin and Belfast, as well as in many other towns across the island.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was among those who gathered outside the Dáil on Friday, while deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill joined the crowd at City Hall in Belfast.

More vigils and memorial events will be held in the days to come.

In Tullamore, shops, businesses and cafes closed early on Friday evening, as the midlands town came largely to a halt as thousands flocked to attend the vigil in a local park.

Staff member Joan Coughlan and colleagues from Cork City Hall vaccination centre light a candle in memory of Ashling Murphy. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Staff member Joan Coughlan and colleagues from Cork City Hall vaccination centre light a candle in memory of Ashling Murphy. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

There were many tears as people of all ages came to mourn and pay their respects to the young teacher.

Friends of Ms Murphy were among the traditional Irish musicians who played at the vigil in Tullamore.

Earlier, the Taoiseach said that the murder of the young teacher had “united the nation in solidarity and revulsion”.

A huge crowd which gathered outside Dail Eireann in Dublin this afternoon, as the National Women's Council of Ireland hold a vigil for Ashling Murphy. Photograph: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie
A huge crowd which gathered outside Dail Eireann in Dublin this afternoon, as the National Women's Council of Ireland hold a vigil for Ashling Murphy. Photograph: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie

“No stone will be left unturned in terms of bringing this investigation to a completion and to bring the person responsible for this to justice,” Mr Martin said.

Politicians have promised that all resources necessary will be provided to the gardaí to find the killer.

The death of Ms Murphy has sparked fresh debate about the safety of women in Ireland, with many asking how such an attack could happen in broad daylight.

“We, as a society, need to face up to this. There is an epidemic of violence against women. It’s been going on for millennia, quite frankly,” Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said on Friday.

“Men and boys, I think, in particular have a responsibility to start to have that conversation among ourselves about the kind of factors, the kind of attitudes, that give rise to feelings that engender men to commit acts of violence against women.” 

A woman lights a candle after attending a vigil at Leinster House, Dublin. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A woman lights a candle after attending a vigil at Leinster House, Dublin. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

On Friday, gardaí 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.

On Thursday, officers released a man they had been questioning, saying he is “no longer a suspect”.

The man’s solicitor told the PA news agency that he has had his “life ruined”.

Donal Farrelly, who represented the man during his two days of questioning, condemned those who had tried to identify him on social media.

The town of Tullamore has been left reeling from the death of Ms Murphy, who was described as a “special girl” and a “little angel” by her family.

In an interview with the Irish Independent newspaper, her father Raymond said: “She was a great worker, with great drive. A marvellous musician.

“She crammed so much into her short life.” 

Those who knew her described her as a gifted musician who was loved by her pupils.

It is believed about 50 officers are working on the investigation and a post-mortem examination has been completed.

The route along the Grand Canal is often busy and is a popular spot for walkers and joggers.

Floral tributes were left outside the gates of Durrow National School, where Ms Murphy taught, and on Friday the school issued a fresh tribute to her.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the school said it was “utterly devastated by the passing of our dear colleague and friend”.

“Ashling was a very professional and talented young teacher. We are deeply saddened by her tragic loss. Our thoughts are also with her beloved family at this sad time.”

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