Justice Minister Helen McEntee said “absolutely everything that can be done is being done” to bring Ashling Murphy’s killer to justice.
She was speaking after Gardaí renewed their appeal for information as they search for Ashling Murphy’s killer after the man they arrested was cleared as a suspect.
The man in his 40s who was being questioned about the murder of the 23-year-old teacher was released from police custody on Thursday evening.
An opinion on RIP.ie said Ms Murphy will be “deeply missed by her heartbroken family”, which includes her father Raymond, mother Kathleen, brother Cathal, sister Amy, aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family, neighbors and his friends.
Ms Murphy was fatally assaulted at 4pm on Wednesday along the canal bank at Cappincur, Tullamore in County Offaly.
Gardaí renewed their call for information on a Falcon Storm mountain bike with straight handlebars and a distinctive yellow/green front fork.
They are also appealing to anyone who was in the Cappincur promenade / Tullamore canal area before 4 p.m. Wednesday to get in touch with them.
Ms Murphy was originally from Blueball townland, Tullamore. She had previously played camogie for Offaly and was a talented musician. One of three siblings, she was from a well-known family in the traditional Midlands music scene.
Mrs Murphy was killed at Boland’s Lock, Cappincur, on the Grand Canal towpath about 3km east of Tullamore at 4pm. It is understood that she was beaten and strangled and suffered an injury.
A number of vigils are due to take place on Friday afternoon at locations around the Republic, including Tullamore City Park at 4 p.m., to remember Ms Murphy and to call for an end to violence between men and women. women.
A National Council of Women of Ireland vigil was due to take place outside Dáil Éireann, Dublin, from 4pm – around the time Ms Murphy was killed on Wednesday – for an hour. Vigils were also scheduled at Galway’s Eyre Square at 6 p.m., Limerick’s Arthur’s Quay Park at 6 p.m., Belfast City Hall at 4 p.m., Derry’s Guildhall steps at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 9.30 a.m. at Cork’s Atlantic Pond.
Books of condolences have been opened for Ms Murphy and are available at Westmeath County Council municipal offices in Mullingar and Athlone for one week, between 9.30am and 4pm.
In a statement released on Thursday evening, Gardaí confirmed that “the man who was arrested and detained by An Garda Síochána investigating this fatal assault has now been released from this detention.
“This man has been cleared from Garda investigations and is no longer a suspect.”
“A Woman’s Worst Nightmare”
The man had been arrested shortly after Ms Murphy was attacked along the canal bank in Cappincur, Tullamore around 4pm on Wednesday.
Speaking to Midlands 103 radio this morning, Ms McEntee said: ‘I spoke to the Garda Commissioner this morning, in constant contact with him, to make sure that whatever they need, whatever is needed to complete this investigation and find out who did this to Ashling and bring them to justice.
Ms McEntee declined to discuss details of the investigation, but said: ‘What is important here is that the gardaí are able to carry out their investigation.
She said the investigation involved “engaging with people, taking interviews, gathering evidence where possible, forensic evidence where possible, which thankfully in recent years have become at the heart of the business, it is the renewed call they have launched for people to come forward if they have information…”
She reiterated calls from the Garda for people to come forward if they had any information on a distinctive mountain bike and said if anyone had any dash cam footage that “perhaps would have been able to capture everything that is happening”, they should present themselves to the gardaí.
“People want to know that the right person is arrested and the right person is brought to justice,” she said.
She said it was “very difficult to understand” the fact that the murder took place in an area where people felt safe, but added that most violence against women was perpetrated by “someone they know… at her place”. .
She said ‘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 murder, which was committed in a public place ‘which the local population still considered safe’.
“A real fear”
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said while Ms Murphy’s murder in Tullamore, Co Offaly, had caused ‘genuine fear’ across the country, such attacks were ‘relatively rare’ and Ireland was “a secure society”.
The murder investigation continued on Thursday evening as Tullamore residents expressed their shock and anger at the murder.
The motive for the attack is unclear but gardaí believe it was random and the killer acted alone. No evidence of sexual assault has emerged to date.
Ms Murphy had spent the day teaching at Durrow National School, just outside Tullamore, where she was the first class teacher. After finishing her work, she went for exercise on the canal towpath, a usual routine for her, and was attacked there.
She was still alive when paramedics arrived, but efforts to save her were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
It is understood that two women arrived at the scene from across the canal. They witnessed the fatal attack and saw the attacker flee. They gave a description of the attacker to gardaí. In a follow-up operation on Wednesday evening, the now cleared man was arrested and held until late Thursday night.
Durrow National School headmaster James Hogan told the Irish Times that staff had been “overwhelmed” by all the messages they had received following Ms Murphy’s murder.
“We are very devastated,” he said, adding that Ms Murphy was a personal friend as he grew up playing traditional music with her. “She was fantastic, a terrific teacher and she had a brilliant light about her. The first class idolized her, the kids are just heartbroken. There have been a lot of tears here today.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Tullamore Garda Station Incident Room on 057 932 7600, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.