'This is the fight of our lives, and it's exhausting': TDs pay tribute to Ashling Murphy 

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald was among the TDs to speak passionately on the subject, occasionally glancing over at Independent TDs Mattie McGrath and Michael Healy-Rae, who appeared engrossed in a private conversation.
'This is the fight of our lives, and it's exhausting': TDs pay tribute to Ashling Murphy 

Minister of State at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth with responsibility for Disability Anne Rabbitte.

"This is the fight of our lives, and it's exhausting," junior minister Anne Rabbitte passionately told the Dáil.

Directly behind her, Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill was knowingly nodding.

The murder of Ashling Murphy has led to an outpouring of deep sadness and anger, as well as calls for stamping out of gender-based violence.

Yesterday, as the candles and floral tributes remained outside the gates of Leinster House in memory of the 23-year-old teacher, politicians inside added to that outpouring.

"Not all men, but all women will know the feeling that creeps up on your back when you hear steps behind you and you have to check," Ms Rabbitte told the Dáil.

Not all men, but all women stay away from the darkness between streetlights sprinting from one bright spot to the next. Not all men, but all women look for the car park space with CCTV cameras facing them, knowing that unlocking and getting into their car is one of the most vulnerable actions."

A single life was taken last week, but Ashling's death has struck a chord with the entire nation.

As Justice Minister Helen McEntee put it: "In Ashling, we see our sisters, our daughters and our mothers. In her family, we see our own. And as women, we see ourselves and feel an anger and fear that is all too familiar."

Citing her nine-month-old son, Ms McEntee said, like all parents, she thinks about what he will be like when he is older.

"But in the past week, I've promised myself that no matter what he is or who he is, that he will respect women, that he will call out these types of inequalities and that he will stand up where he sees this type of behaviour," she said.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee reflected on the implications for her own family. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Justice Minister Helen McEntee reflected on the implications for her own family. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Earlier in the day, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the "roots of sexism and misogyny run deep" and change will require cross-party effort and action.

"The face of misogyny has changed, but it has not gone away. Today's Ireland, our place, our daughters' Ireland, is ugly and dangerous," Ms McDonald told the Dáil, occasionally glancing over at Independent TDs Mattie McGrath and Michael Healy-Rae, who appeared engrossed in a private conversation.

But she continued: "Whether it is the unsolicited sexual photos, the online stalking and abuse, harassment in shops, in nightclubs, on the bus, on bicycles, at work, or at college. It is the intimidation of lewd commentary and catcalling. It is the never-ending mansplaining. It is the gaslighting and the coercive control. It is rape."

Taoiseach, Micheál Martin said gender-based violence must be eliminated from our society as well as all aspects of the undermining of women in a misogynistic or any other form.

"That takes a multifaceted approach embracing prevention, protection, security, and education," he said. 

"In short, it needs a sea change in culture, not just legislation and initiatives, to eliminate this.

"Men need to listen more and hear women more on this, and related issues."

While the many statements focused on the systemic, legislative, and cultural change now required, the contributions naturally circled back to Ashling Murphy.

Offaly TD Barry Cowen said Ashling should be remembered for the woman that she was — "a musician, a teacher, a mentor"— but added that action must now be taken.

Ms McEntee said she couldn't stand in the Dáil and promise "never again".

"I cannot say that no woman will suffer at the hands of a man tonight. None of us can," she said.

"What we can do is commit to Ashling, to so many other women, and to each other that we will dedicate ourselves to the long and difficult path of change."

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