The tragic murder of Ashling Murphy in Tullamore has given us all pause for thought. A beautiful talented young woman, deeply immersed in the life of her community is suddenly and viciously taken by a senseless act of unspeakable violence. Her funeral Mass was a moving tribute to the lovely girl she was. I’m sure her family were deeply consoled by the national outpouring of heartfelt sorrow so evident since her death.
Violence in all its manifestations is an ugly thing, it always demeans and diminishes both victim and the perpetrator. Sadly, violence is an ever-present reality in human life, and often it is without reason or provocation of any kind. We have all heard of the unprovoked attacks on individuals often late at night in city centre locations, these attacks are often alcohol or drug fuelled rages that defy rationale and leave heartbreak and mayhem in their wake.
Many will recall the tragic case of a young Italian boy, Guido Nasi (17) a visitor to Dublin to learn English, who in 1999 was the victim of one such an unprovoked assault in Fairview Park that left him paraplegic, partially sighted, and unable to feed himself. Since 1999 there have been hundreds more such senseless assaults causing deaths and maiming. Indeed, unprovoked attacks on young men became a worrying and frequent occurrence in the years that followed.
Violence within the home is an all too prevalent reality, and often remains hidden for a long time before some particularly vicious episode brings what is happening into the open. Many women in particular have suffered in silence for a very long time, living in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
Ashling Murphy’s death has given rise to a new national conversation about violence and the attitudes that provide the social context in which it takes place. I don’t believe that violence is a gender issue, nor should the discussion of it break down along gender lines. Violence against anybody is reprehensible in all its forms.
The present unprecedented flood of pornography available to every young person with a ‘smartphone’ is something we dare not ignore. The attitudes being formed by impressionable minds based on such debased materials are priming a time-bomb. If women and men are reduced to objects for gratification then human dignity goes out the door and attitudes and relationships become seriously skewed. In such a scenario anything goes.
Let’s hope the beautiful life and tragic death of Ashling Murphy can be a catalyst for change.
May she rest in the Lord’s peace.
St. Mary’s Lucan