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‘I WANT TO FEEL SAFE’: Shocked Ireland shuts up over murdered young woman

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DUBLIN – Thousands of people fell silent during candlelight vigils in cities across Ireland on Friday in memory of a young jogger killed in broad daylight, in what activists called a “defining moment” in the appeal to end violence against women.

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Ashling Murphy was killed in her home town of Tullamore in the Irish Midlands on Wednesday while exercising on a popular canal footbridge. Police say the attack on the 23-year-old teacher was likely random and the attacker remains at large.

The killing shocked the country and around 100 vigils were held across Ireland and Northern Ireland, including outside Dublin’s parliament where a minute’s silence was held at 4.30pm, close to when Murphy said been attacked.

“I’m sick of every time I hear a young woman being killed thinking ‘Oh my god, is this someone I know?’ There is a worldwide endemic of gender-based violence against women,” said Sally Anne McCarthy, a 25-year-old law student holding a homemade sign saying, “I want to feel safe.”

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“Poor Ashling probably ran out thinking ‘if I go out now, I’ll be home before dark.’ Me and every young woman are really sick of living our lives making all these behavioral changes just to feel safe. I shouldn’t have to live like this.

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Others piled flowers outside the gates of parliament, where they were joined by politicians including Prime Minister Micheál Martin. Murphy was a musician and friends played traditional Irish music as large crowds remained silent for an hour and filled the nearby streets.

The head of the National Women’s Council, which organized the main vigil, said the anger “without a doubt” represented a watershed moment in the campaign to end male violence against women.

Martin said the government had worked over the past year on a national strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, the centerpiece of which is zero tolerance for violence against women.

“There is a culture in our society that creates the conditions in which violence against women happens and happens all too frequently,” Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar added, saying the country was “in shock. “of murder.

“As men, we have a special responsibility to understand the factors that lead to attitudes of violence against women and to teach our boys and teenagers what is right and what is wrong.”