Man hijacks online Ashling Murphy vigil to display porn during gender violence discussion

Man hijacks online Ashling Murphy vigil to display porn during gender violence discussion

Tens of thousands of people around Ireland and beyond have been attending vigils for murdered school teacher and musician Ashling Murphy. But an all-women's online vigil was hijacked by a man displaying pornographic content. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA

A man appearing to masturbate hijacked an online vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy as one of the speakers was addressing the issue of gender violence.

The all-woman event was held on Sunday evening to allow women who could not go to a vigil to share their anger and distress.

The speakers came from a wide range of backgrounds, including Traveller activist, Rose Marie Maughan; rights advocate and journalist, Christine O’Mahony; poet, Kathy D’Arcy; singer, Emma Langford, and artist, Erin Darcy.

When Ms O’Mahony logged on to the Zoom event, she quickly spotted her name was appearing twice on the screen, but she could not work out why, she said.

It turned out someone had hacked into the event, using a link shared publicly on social media, and was using her email to access the session. This person's screen then showed a man masturbating, which was visible to all attending. She said: 

When Rose Marie Maughan was speaking and saying how men need to teach their boys not to be disgusting, that is when whoever the person was put on his camera and interrupted.

“I’m really shocked that someone would do something this disgusting at a vigil for a murdered woman,” she said.

“I don’t know yet who it could be, I don’t think I know anyone who could be so disgusting as to hijack a vigil for a murder victim.” 

Emma Langford was already feeling emotional when she joined the event, as she has been subjected to online abuse since appearing on the Late Late Show on Friday evening. 

She had called for ‘meaningful change’ on the show.

“I’m so angry I can’t even express it. We can’t have anything, we can’t do anything without it being tarnished by someone who can’t get their head around it that this is not acceptable behaviour,” she said.

“I’m exhausted.” 

Ms Langford said the panel was deliberately inclusive of women from different backgrounds, and she is furious this was “exploited” by the man.

“We were all there to join in the collective conversation around what is happening right now, and for someone to exploit that is sickening,” she said.

The event was organised by West Cork advocate and activist, Evie Nevin.

“The fact that this vigil is now being talked about because of this "man" and not because the speakers, poetry, and music were BEAUTIFUL makes me absolutely sick to my stomach,” she posted on social media afterwards. 

Ms O’Mahony is planning to contact the gardaí, and they hope the man will be traced. 

Tony Groves, co-founder of the Tortoise Shack podcast is assisting them, as he was also part of organising the event.

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