"She represented the best of her generation" - Michael D Higgins pays tribute to Ashling Murphy 6 months ago

"She represented the best of her generation" - Michael D Higgins pays tribute to Ashling Murphy

"The loss of Ashling is a loss to all of us, but to her family, it is beyond description."

President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to Ashling Murphy, saying that "she represented the best of her generation" and that her life will be recalled as "inspirational".

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A statement from the President was published on Friday afternoon (14 January) as vigils for the 23-year-old primary school teacher who was attacked and killed while out jogging in Tullamore on Wednesday afternoon continue across the country.

“People throughout Ireland, in every generation, have been expressing their shock, grief, anger and upset at the horrific murder of Ashling Murphy," Higgins wrote.

"This morning I spoke to Ashling’s family to convey, as President on behalf of the people of Ireland, and on behalf of Sabina and myself as parents, my profound sympathy and sorrow and sense of loss that her tragic death has meant to so many, but what in particular it must mean to her mother Kathleen, father Raymond, sister Amy and brother Cathal."

The President said he sought to convey a sense of how all of Ireland are thinking of the Murphy family at this very sad time.

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"The loss of Ashling is a loss to all of us, but to her family, it is beyond description," Higgins said.

He also stated that it is "so exemplary for young and old" to read of all Ashling’s accomplishments during her "short but brilliant and generous life".

"Those who knew, studied with her, or as we have heard, loved her as a young gifted teacher, all have borne witness to a life of generous commitment to her local community and to her creativity," Higgins said.

"As a young, talented and enthusiastic teacher she had already made such a positive impact on her young students and colleagues at school.

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"To hear them speak of her is such a testament to the joy of sharing, be it in teaching, music or sport, that she conveyed in a way which must have brought much joy to all.

"She represented the best of her generation, in a life they will recall as inspirational."

The President added that it is of "crucial importance" that people reflect on what needs to be done to eliminate violence against women in all its aspects from society following Ashling’s death.

"May I suggest to all our people to reflect on all of our actions and attitudes – and indeed those we may have been leaving unchallenged amongst those whom we know – and do all we can to ensure that the society we live in is one where all of our citizens are free to live their lives, participate fully, in an atmosphere that is unencumbered by risks for their safety," he said.

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"Let us respond to this moment of Ashling’s death by committing to the creation of a kinder, more compassionate and empathetic society for all, one that will seek to eliminate all threats of violence against any of our citizens, and commit in particular to bringing an end, at home and abroad, to violence against women in any of its forms.

"Suaimhneas síoraí dá hanam uasal dílis, Ashling," Higgins concluded.

Earlier on Friday, it was reported that a "person of interest" has been identified by Gardaí investigating the murder of Ashling Murphy.

According to RTÉ, the authorities are waiting to speak with a man who is currently in hospital.

On Thursday, Gardaí released a man who had been previously arrested in connection with the murder, stating that he is "no longer a suspect".

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"The male who was arrested and detained by An Garda Síochána investigating this fatal assault has now been released from this detention," a spokesperson said.

"This male has been eliminated from Garda enquiries and is no longer a suspect."