Comment & Analysis
Jan 16, 2022

Ashling Murphy’s Murder is a Chilling Reminder of Ireland’s Deep-Seated Misogyny

The nation not only mourns the death of Ashling Murphy, but the illusion that Ireland was ever a safe place for women.

By The Editorial Board

Four days ago, a 23 year-old woman was murdered while on a run in Tullamore. The death of Ashling Murphy left the nation incredulous and sorrowful. Vigils were held across the country as thousands of people mourned Murphy like she was their own daughter, sister or friend.

Many people believe that Ireland is a safe country. This week it became clear that this belief is juxtaposed with an acceptance that women alter their lives in an attempt to avoid male violence.

When women grip their keys between their fingers or, as is now being recommended, carry hairspray for defence, they sometimes think they are being paranoid. But Ashling’s murder has confirmed our greatest fear: that those actions are necessary — and, sometimes, not enough. Lest we forget the name of the towpath on which it occurred: Fiona’s Way – named after another woman who went missing in 1996. Closer to home, a woman was fatally stabbed outside the Binary Hub accommodation complex two years ago.


Commentators may proclaim that this event has shattered the perception that Ireland is a safe country. For women, this belief never existed to begin with.

The Irish criminal justice system has a long history of failing women. Thousands of calls from domestic violence victims are cancelled, evidently violent men are given inadequate sentencing or released on bail and any woman who dares report rape is faced with a gruelling legal battle she is statistically unlikely to win.

We don’t yet know for sure who the killer is and they may still walk among us, so it is hard to surmise how a human being came to commit such a heinous crime. But one thing is clear: the deep-seated misogyny that exists in our country perpetuates violence against women.

If you are lucky enough not to personally experience misogyny, you undoubtedly witness it. The sense of entitlement some men have over women is illustrated every day in how women are spoken to, how they are seen, discredited and disrespected.

It is every man’s responsibility to step in or speak up when a woman may be in danger and, crucially, men must not create that danger. Let the aftermath of this tragic event spark hope for the women of Ireland and not just heighten their pre-existing fears.