Group accused of 'weaponising prayer' to disrupt Ashling Murphy vigil in Limerick

Former Solidarity councillor for Limerick, Mary Cahillane, asked them to please respect the vigil, but she said that she was ignored
Group accused of 'weaponising prayer' to disrupt Ashling Murphy vigil in Limerick

Candles being lit at a vigil for Aishling Murphy at Arthurs Quay in Limerick on Friday. Picture: Brendan Gleeson

A group that disrupted a vigil for murdered school teacher Ashling Murphy has been accused of "weaponsing prayer" when they drowned out women's distressed voices by loudly amplifying their 'men's rosary'. 

The 'Men’s Rosary' refused to turn down their PA system or move across the street, making so much noise that the vigil was forced to end early.

One woman who planned to speak at the rally allegedly left for fear of abuse and harassment.

Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan wrote on Twitter that the group raised the sound on the PA system every time anyone spoke at the vigil, despite being politely asked by organisers to move.

Former Solidarity councillor for Limerick, Mary Cahillane, asked the group to respect the vigil, but she said that she was ignored.

"There was a large crowd there for the vigil and only about 10 for the rosary. I explained that the vigil was going ahead, but they just ignored me and turned up the volume of their very loud PA system.

"The vigil only had megaphones, so the PA completely drowned us out.

"Some people were very upset. At a time when men are supposed to be listening to women's fears about their safety, they just say the rosary to drown you out.

"It was really hurtful to women who wanted to speak about their concerns."

Ms Cahillane said the vigil had to wrap up early, because "people couldn’t be heard". 

It was very unfair and insensitive. They knew what the vigil was about. They were weaponising prayer.

"The rosary is supposed to be a contemplative prayer; their behaviour was even insulting to the prayer." 

Labour councillor Conor Sheehan, who also attended the vigil, said on Twitter that the group's behaviour "was one of the most unchristian things I have ever witnessed". He said that the religious group came to Bedford Row, "specifically to disrupt this demo against gender violence". 

"They tried to drown out each woman who stood up to speak," he wrote. 

"No compassion or humanity, just misogyny. Disgusting!"

Event organiser and ROSA member, Stefanie Di Croce, said that although groups do gather at other locations to say the rosary in Limerick, she has never seen a rosary group on Bedford Row before. News had been released in advance that the vigil for Ms Murphy and against gender violence was advertised for that location, at that time.

As she read out a list of women's names who had died by femicide, she was shocked that their names were being drowned out by the rosary group’s PA.

"As I read out their names, the PA seemed to be growing louder and louder. It was shocking. They showed no respect."  Ms Murphy, 23, graduated from Limerick’s Mary Immaculate College last year.

She was murdered on Wednesday afternoon, when jogging at a usually populous canal walk just outside Tullamore.

The men's rosary group may have links to the far-right Irish Freedom Party, which held a rally at the same location, Bedford Row, earlier this month.

Death threats and homophobic slurs were shouted at counter-protesters and an IFP supporter tried to tear a Pride flag out of someone's hand at that rally, which was then shut down by gardaí.

An attempt has been made to contact people identified at the Men's Rosary, and groups believed to be involved with it, for comment.

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