Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said there is a culture in Irish society that has created an epidemic of attacks on women and there was a need to shine a light on gender-based violence.
Responding to questions about the disclosure overnight that the man who murdered 23-year-old Aisling Murphy was still at large, Mr Varadkar said that every one in the country was shocked by what had happened in Tullamore.
“I know people in Tullamore must be very worried at the moment because the killer is still at large. And I want to reassure people that all of the resources of the gardaí are going into making sure that this person is found and that they’re brought to justice and that people can feel safe again.”
Turning to the wider implications he said: “I think, though, it does cause us to think a little bit more about gender-based violence. And this is something that men and women alike need to combat together. And I think for men in particular, we need to make sure that we understand, and that we teach our boys that violence against women is never justified.
“It doesn’t matter who she is, it doesn’t matter where it was, it doesn’t matter what time of day it is. It’s never justified. It’s always wrong. And there is a culture in our society that creates the conditions in which violence against women happens too frequently. Not just in public places but also people’s homes and workplaces.”
He said men had a particular responsibility in that regard to understand the factors that had given rise to attitudes of violence against women. He said boys and teenagers need to be taught what is right and what is wrong.
He said there were things the Government could do including tackling gender-based violence and domestic violence. He said the Garda was putting extra resources into its rescue units, into education and into awareness campaigns, as well as for services to victims of gender-based violence.
He said society needed to face up to this.
“There is an epidemic of violence against women. It’s been going on for millennia, quite frankly, and men and boys, I think in particular, have a responsibility to start to have that conversation among themselves, about the kinds of factors, the kind of attitudes that … engender men to commit acts of violence against women.
Mr Varadkar, who was speaking at the opening of Aldi’s new head office in Naas, Co Wicklow added he was conscious that it is only a year since Sarah Everard was was killed in London and a year since a woman from Mongolia, Urantsetseg Tserendorj (48) was killed by a 15-year-old boy on the streets of Dublin.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that gardaí are doing “everything they possibly can” and using all their resources to find the person responsible for the fatal attack on the young teacher.
Speaking at the Irish Institute of Music and Song in Balbriggan, Mr Martin said he had a private conversation with Ms Murphy’s family yesterday to express his solidarity with them. He said he had spoken the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee on Friday morning about the case.
Mr Martin was asked what he would say to the community and country who may be concerned that the perpetrator may still be at large.
“That is of concern, of course, to the people of Tullamore and to the people generally across the country. The gardaí are doing everything they possibly can and (using) all of their resources to protect people and to make sure people are safe, but also to find the person responsible for this and to bring that person to justice. I can say that without hesitation, that every effort will be made bring person to justice and to keep people safe in intervening period.”
Mr Martin said that Ashling Murphy represented “the best of that tradition of national teaching.”
“Our hearts and our minds go to the Murphy family, to her community, to her family and friends and in particular young pupils who no doubt would have been looking forward to Ashling’s presence in the classroom teaching music and sport, as well as the broader curriculum. I’ve always been of the view that the national school teacher, from the beginning of the State has been the bedrock upon which our society was built on. And in many ways Ashling Murphy represented and personified the very best of that tradition of national teaching.”
Mr Martin said he had a private conversation with Ms Murphy’s family yesterday.
“Obviously, the family are very devastated and I don’t want to say any more than that. I just wanted like everybody across the country on behalf of people to express our solidarity with them, and our devastation at the fact that a beautiful young woman has been taken from their lives.
“It’s just unconscionable, it’s something I think that the united the people of this country in revulsion against it, and it’s very, very sad for them. To take young woman through life, coming out of a teaching training college, back in her home location teaching in a national school doing what she loves best. It’s very, very devastating for the family and for the wider community, I think for all of us in the country.”
Earlier Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said that “absolutely everything that can be done is being done” to bring the killer of Ashling Murphy to justice.
“People want to know that the right person is caught and the right person is brought to justice,” she said.
She said it was “very difficult to get your head around” the fact that the murder took place in an area where people felt safe, but added that most violence against women was carried out by “someone they know… in her home”.
She said that a “cultural change” was needed to establish a culture of “zero tolerance” towards violence against women.
She described the attack as “a woman’s worst nightmare” and said the killer would be caught. She shared people’s “anger” over the killing, which was committed in a public place that local people felt was always safe.