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Man released in Offaly murder probe has had life ‘ruined’, solicitor says

There was a palpable sense of frustration in the town this morning at the events of the last 24 hours.

Locals pay tribute at the scene of the attack yesterday.
Locals pay tribute at the scene of the attack yesterday.
Image: Eamonn Farrell

THE MAN RELEASED by gardaí investigating the murder of young teacher Ashling Murphy in Co Offaly has had his “life ruined”, his solicitor said.

Gardaí last night released the 40-year-old, stating he is “no longer a suspect”.

Donal Farrelly, who represented the man during his two days of questioning, condemned those who had tried to identify him on social media.

Feelings of disbelief and grief in Tullmore at the killing of 23-year-old Ashling Murphy have been replaced in the town by a palpable sense of frustration and anger, with a lot of it directed at gardaí. 

A number of locals who spoke to The Journal told of their frustration at the recent developments. 

Speaking to the PA news agency, meanwhile, Farrelly said: “This man has been vilified on social media and clearly identified on social media.”

The solicitor said his client had endured a “traumatic period” while at Tullamore Garda Station.

“Any form of interrogation or questioning is inherently traumatic,” Farrelly said.

“And he’s been through two days of this.”

“We must never lose sight of the dreadful trauma to the Murphy family. But this is an innocent man, who has now been cleared.”

Farrelly said he did not want to provide any details about the man’s identity, though he did confirm his age.

People in the town initially drew comfort from the knowledge police had quickly apprehended a suspect.

But Farrelly said his client had also faced the “troubles and trauma of social media”.

It has “ruined his life and he has been deeply affected by it”, Farrelly said.

He confirmed the man stayed away from his home and local area last night after his release.

“We must never lose sight of the dreadful trauma to the Murphy family,” said Farrelly, who voiced his “every sympathy” to Ashling Murphy’s loved ones.

“But this is an innocent man, who has now been cleared.”

Vigils 

Gardaí continue to appeal for witnesses to come forward with any information they have on the murder.

However, they are also keen for the message to go out clearly and unambiguously that the man detained in recent days has been eliminated from the probe and is no longer a suspect.

Notices regarding various vigils for Ashling adorn many shop fronts in the town today and many are to close their businesses at 4.30pm as a mark of respect. Some are stopping to observe a minute’s silence at that time also. 

A significant number of shops in the town are set to close their doors at 4pm as a sign of respect for Ashling and her family. 

But it’s clear the mood in Tullamore has shifted. Yesterday, there was a tremendous sense of loss as people mourned the tragic and senseless nature of Ashling’s death. 

One overriding feeling today is that the gardaí have given Ashling’s real killer, as one person put it, “a head start”. 

Outside a local hotel in the town, one man spoke of his frustration. 

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“How did this happen? The real killer is half way down the road. Sure, he could be out of the country by now as well. He was given a head start now. Those guards have a lot of catching up to do now. People are wanting the answers to this.”

Another local, Ross Fagan, said the whole town is still “shook” by what happened and that the women in his family are now concerned about walking alone.

“My mam and sister are worried now about going for walks. They would have gone down there to the canal the odd time for a walk. They are just worried now that this guy is still out there and that he’s dangerous. Now, I’d say he’s probably left the area but we don’t know that for certain at all.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Tullamore Garda Station on 057 932 7600, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.

- With reporting by PA 

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