Vigil Organiser Deirdre Planning Working Group to Tackle Female Abuse Issues

Musicians, Anne and Nicky McAuliffe and Con Moynihan playing in tribute to a fellow musician at the vigil for the late murder victim Ashling Murphy in Castleisland on Friday evening. © Photograph: John Reidy

Vigil Organiser Deirdre Planning Working Group to Tackle Female Abuse Issues

Vigil organiser, Deirdre Bell pictured with her son, John (left) with Art O’Mahony and Cllr. Charlie Farrelly at the tribute to the late Ashling Murphy in Castleisland on Friday evening. ©Photograph: John Reidy


The organiser of Friday evening’s candle-lit vigil in memory of tragic murder victim, Ashling Murphy in the Co. Offaly town of Tullamore, is to press on with plans to set up a working group to urge politicians to shake up the laws around the abuse of women in Irish society.

The Deirdre Bell organised vigil attracted a roughly estimated number in the region of 250 to 300 people of all ages and gender.

A Quiet Dignity

The library car park, quiet at five minutes to the appointed time of 6pm, suddenly sprang to life as the minutes ticked away.

There was a quiet dignity and a sense of purpose and stride to the occasion as people began to gather and drift towards the western end of the park. Candles were produced from bags and pockets and switched on or lit.

Knowing What It’s About

We understand sombre occasions, we know how to show respect at times like this.

We know funerals and wakes and the sadness that comes with them inside out. Now it’s like Ireland has been boiled down and is in mourning together just like having a big funeral in a small village and we’re all there together.

No Long-Winded Speeches

Some of those turning up on Friday evening hoped that there wouldn’t be any political input or long winded speeches and that the dignity of the occasion would be respected for the sadness of the terrible event that caused the people to come together in the first place.

Knocknagoshel woman, Deirdre Bell is not a protest marcher or an outspoken critic of government policy by nature or even an ardent feminist – but this is different – this is for Ashling Murphy.

Never Been Found

This is about shining a light and exposing all the cracks in Irish society which allows terrifying events like this to happen to so many women – some of whom have never been found after suffering attacks similar to that which ended Ms. Murphy’s vibrant, young life.

“I have a 23 year old daughter – the same age as Ashling – and I have teenagers in my life and I have friends with teenagers and young adults.

“ I can see what they’re going through and I can see that there’s a culture of sexual violence against women out there.

Awful Shift in Society

“There’s an awful shift in our society – there’s a frightening change and I felt compelled to do something – that’s all,” said Deirdre this morning as she reflected on the success of her toe-in-the-water public event.

This is not going to be just another passing phase or news story in the history of the darker side of society in Ireland – as far as Deirdre is concerned.

“I’m going to set up a group of parents, teenagers, educationists and representatives of the Rape Crisis Centre as working group to try and move forward and put pressure on our government.

Cracks in the System

“This has to be tackled in three phases as far as I’m concerned: It’s violence against women; poorly educated teenagers and the mental health services are so poor.

“When you think of it, the person who murdered Ashling must surely be in need of psychiatric help – how did he fall through the cracks in the system ? She asked.

People are talking now more than ever about these issues and something has changed for sure and it’s all around the young people of our towns and villages.

In the Thick of It

“I’m in the thick of it and what I see and hear about what’s going on around me really scares me.

“That’s why I feel that my next move will have to be to get a group of people together. We know that things have to change – what we have to figure out is how that change can be brought about.

“Nothing that we do now will bring that unfortunate girl back to her grieving family and we know that nobody goes out at night intending to hurt anybody – but it does happen.

Getting People Together

“If what we did on Friday evening motivates people to get together for the right reasons, then we will have done something really useful and we’ll move on from there.

“I was delighted and impressed by the turnout and I’d like to thank Cllr. Charlie Farrelly for organising the use of the car-park at short notice and to the musicians, Anne and Nicky McAuliffe and Con Moynihan for lending their support,” said Deirdre in conclusion.

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