Multiple garda investigations into 'hacked' online vigil for Ashling Murphy

Multiple garda investigations into 'hacked' online vigil for Ashling Murphy

A photograph of Ashling Murphy among flowers and candles at a makeshift shrine during a vigil in her memory at Leinster House, Dublin, last Friday. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Gardaí have received multiple complaints “from different parts of the country” in relation to an incident of indecent exposure involving a man during an online vigil in honour of murdered Ashling Murphy.

Specialist detectives in Cork are leading the investigations after the main event organiser lodged a complaint with gardaí on Monday, the day after the vigil.

The vigil — organised on Zoom and flagged as an all-woman event — was hacked into and, as one of the speakers was talking, there were images on screen of a man masturbating.

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

In a statement, Garda HQ told the Irish Examiner: “Gardaí have received a number of complaints from different parts of the country and An Garda Síochána are carrying out enquires at this time.” 

The speakers at Sunday’s event included Traveller activist Rosemarie Maughan, rights advocate and journalist Christine O’Mahony, poet Kathy D’Arcy, and singer Emma Langford.

When Ms O’Mahony logged on, she quickly spotted her name was appearing twice on the screen.

It appears someone had hacked into the event, using a link shared on social media, and was using her email to access the session. The images on the person's screen were visible to all.

The main organiser, West Cork advocate and activist Evie Uí Cnáimhín told the Irish Examiner that she had made a complaint to gardaí, and that the West Cork Protective Services Unit was investigating.

Divisional Protective Services Units are specialist teams trained and tasked with investigating sexual and domestic violence.

Ms Maughan said she was in contact with Drogheda Garda Station on Monday and intended to go there on Thursday to make a complaint.

Ms O’Mahony said she intended to make a complaint this Friday.

“I do not want this vile man getting away with it,” she said. 

Most of us are survivors of sexual assault, and there were children on that Zoom call too with their mums.

“This is cyberflashing, and it should be a criminal offence. Most of us that were affected by that online vigil will be campaigning to make cyberflashing a criminal offence."

She said she will contact a garda that she knows at Navan Garda Station who has dealt with previous online abuse she has experienced.

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