Man ‘masturbated’ on Zoom vigil for murdered Ashling Murphy

Irish police are making enquiries while campaigners have called for cyber flashing to be criminalised

Matt Mathers
Monday 17 January 2022 13:36 GMT
Vigils have been held for Ashling Murphy in London and Belfast
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A man appearing to masturbate interrupted an online vigil held for murdered teacher Ashling Murphy, according to one of the organisers.

Ms Murphy, a 23-year-old primary school teacher in Ireland, was attacked and killed as she jogged along the Grand Canal outside Tullamore, County Offaly, on Wednesday.

A 40-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder but released on Thursday. Irish broadcaster RTE reported on Saturday that police had identified another suspect in the case and were waiting to speak with him.

The killing sparked a wave of anger and shock in Ireland and calls for tougher action on violence against women.

Vigils took place there and in the UK on the weekend to remember Ms Murphy and other women killed as a result of male violence.

Activists held an online vigil on Zoom on Sunday evening at around 7.30pm for those who could not attend the events in person.

Evie Nevin, a west Cork-based activist and one of the organisers of the event, told The Independent the call was interrupted by a person whose screen showed a man masturbating.

Ms Nevin said those present were "shocked" and "disgusted" by the incident.

"It really made our point about women not being safe anywhere in Ireland," she said.

Ms Nevin and other activists are calling for the Garda (Irish police) to investigate the incident and for politicians to make cyber flashing a criminal offence.

It is understood the person who hijacked the vigil was able to access it through a link posted on social media.

A Garda spokesperson said the force is making enquiries.

Thousands of people attended vigils in Cork, Dublin and Belfast on Saturday.

In Country Offaly, two walks took place along the Grand Canal in Murphy's memory.

The deceased’s family also held a candlelit vigil near the murder scene on Friday.

The Garda said it had made “significant progress” in its investigation but was not releasing details for “operational reasons”.

Detectives believe the attack was “random” and are now looking for a mountain bike they believe was linked to the killer.

The new person of interest police are looking into is believed to be in a hospital in the Dublin region receiving treatment.

As their investigation continues, the Garda believes the development of DNA profiles will form an integral part of the search for Ms Murphy's killer.

A complaint from another woman, who said she was followed on the same canal path hours before the murder, is still being investigated.

Ms Murphy's funeral will take place on Tuesday at St Brigid's Church, Mountbolus, in Co Offaly.

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