Solidarity the prevalent emotion as large numbers participate in memorial walk

Solidarity was the prevalent emotion on Sunday afternoon last as in excess of 1,000 persons united to honour the memory of Ashling Murphy.

Ashling was the victim of a random attack as she enjoyed a run along the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore last week, her death giving due cause for much anger and shock in the days following this brutal incident.

Members of the local public showed their support for Ashling and her family as they gathered en-masse at the Garrycastle entrance to the old rail trail, walking towards the white gates on Ballymahon Road and returning in solemn silence and reflection, the memorial occasion culminating with traditional music for which Ashling was renowned in national circles.

Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser this week, Deirdre Berry of Esker House Women’s Refuge, noted that the memorial walk was a “poignant” occasion and brought to the fore the issue of gender based violence.

“There is a great need to create education awareness with regard to gender based domestic violence. Changing the perception of toxic masculinity is essential. There is too much pressure on males to maintain a strong and non-emotional presence and this can lead to negative eventualities for women in society,” Ms Berry asserted.

Ms Berry also referenced social normalities and the view that it was males who predominantly filled leadership roles.

“Men still maintain a dominant present in many leadership roles within society, gender pay gaps unfortunately still remain. Women must be viewed on an even footing with their male counterparts if we are to make progress in society - all gender based issues must be addressed,” Ms Berry remarked.

Working 16 years with Esker House Women’s Refuge, Ms Berry noted the detrimental impact of Covid-19 on the services provided with two support units being forced to close during the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, at the height of the pandemic we were unable to provide emergency accommodation to those suffering domestic violence due to the closure of two support units.

“Thankfully, the two units recently reopened, but our ultimate aim is to future proof our services provided within the Midlands region. The most dangerous time for women is when they take that first step and ask for help - and at Esker House Women’s Refuge we aspire to provide a level of service which meets the needs of those who require our support,” Ms Berry concluded.

Esker House domestic abuse support service provides help and support in a number of ways, namely emergency refuge accommodation, counselling, outreach services, support and information, advocacy, 24 hour helpline and court accompaniment.


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