Police focus on mountain bike as man quizzed over killing of Ashling Murphy
Irish police were continuing to question a man on Thursday evening as they investigate the killing of a young teacher as she jogged along a canal.
The murder of 23-year-old Ashling Murphy in Tullamore, Co Offaly, has triggered widespread outpourings of grief and anger, with vigils planned in towns and cities across Ireland over the coming days.
A 40-year-old man has been arrested and is being quizzed by gardai.
The Irish police force has promised to leave “no stone unturned” in bringing Ms Murphy’s killer to justice.
Ms Murphy, a primary school teacher in Tullamore, was killed on Wednesday afternoon while running along the banks of the Grand Canal.
Those who knew her described her as a gifted musician who was loved by her pupils.
Her death has sparked fresh conversations about the safety of women in Ireland, with many questioning how such an attack could happen in broad daylight.
There is no place in our society for violence, particularly violence against women. It cannot and will not be tolerated
Several hundred people attended a vigil in memory of Ms Murphy in Galway on Thursday night.
Many in the crowd brought flowers and candles to the vigil, at which they heard calls for a society-wide discussion to ensure men did not feel it was OK to engage in abuse against women.
Senior Irish politicians promised that justice would be delivered for Ms Murphy’s family and condemned violence against women.
Irish premier Micheal Martin said the teacher “represented the best of modern Ireland”.
“The entire country is devastated and shocked by the violent and barbaric killing of Ashling Murphy, a young woman in the prime of her life,” he said.
“There is no place in our society for violence, particularly violence against women. It cannot and will not be tolerated.
“The safety and security of women is at the core of our society’s values.”
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar expressed his condolences to the family of Ms Murphy.
He tweeted on Thursday afternoon: “There must be zero tolerance for any violence against women.”
Mr Varadkar called Ms Murphy’s death “truly devastating and senseless”.
“Every effort is being made to make sure justice is served,” he added.
Dublin, Galway, and Belfast are among the locations where vigils have already been arranged, with the impact of the attack felt on both sides of the Irish border.
Superintendent Eamonn Curley told reporters on Thursday morning around 50 officers are working on the investigation as he appealed for witnesses to come forward.
He said gardai do not believe Ms Murphy knew her killer and said he is likely a “male who acted alone”.
The scene remained closed off at the Grand Canal as the probe continued on Thursday evening, when gardai confirmed a post-mortem examination has been completed.
Also on Thursday evening, Irish police issued a fresh appeal for witnesses and asked anyone with information about a “Falcon Storm mountain bike” with “straight handlebars and distinctive yellow/green front forks” to come forward.
The route along the Grand Canal is often busy and is a popular spot for walkers and joggers.
Floral tributes were left outside the school gates of Durrow National School, where Ms Murphy taught, as the local community reeled in the wake of the attack.
Principal of Durrow National School, James Hogan, said the school community is “utterly devastated”.
He told RTE radio Ms Murphy was a “bright light who put a smile on anyone’s face”.
He added: “Aisling was a shining light to the kids and a very professional and talented young teacher.
“She was an inspiration to so many, not just in our school but across the wider community of schools.”
Dr Labhras O Murchu, from traditional music organisation Comhaltas, said Ms Murphy was “among the finest exponents of the concertina and fiddle and was also learning the uilleann pipes”, adding: “We know that she and her family are at the heart of her local community.
“She was a much-loved school teacher and had so much to offer in so many ways.”
Declan Harvey, Fianna Fail councillor for the area, said: “I am devastated. I couldn’t sleep last night thinking of it all because it is a place I go all the time.
“She went there jogging, she does it regularly. I am lost for words.”
Mr Harvey said it is a route that he and his family often walk.
“Tullamore is probably the safest place in the world, and after yesterday people will be nervous to go down to the canal,” he added.
“It’s a lovely area and helps clear your head. It’s a very popular route that everyone takes. People walk their dogs, people with their kids and prams.”
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