Politicians in Northern Ireland paid tribute to the murdered elementary school teacher Ashling Murphy.
Members of the political community gathered outside the Houses of Parliament in Stormont and stood in silence in memory of the murdered Ko Offali woman.
A large framed picture of the 23-year-old talented musician was placed in front of the building, and a large bouquet of flowers was placed under it.
The warning came shortly before the killings at the start of the Assembly’s business, and members of parliament stressed the need for comprehensive measures to combat violence against women.
Michelle O’Neill, Stormont’s first deputy minister, told the House that domestic, sexual and gender-based violence had reached epidemic proportions.
Member of Parliament Sinn Fein read the names of women who died on the island of Ireland during the plague.
“There are no words to describe the cruelty and injustice that befell Ashling and the heartache and grief of her loss,” he said.
“Our hearts go out to his family and to all who love him.
“Unfortunately, the truth is that violence against women and girls, the threat of violence against women and girls, and the fear of violence against women and girls are all too common.
“Domestic, sexual and gender-based violence is a plague.”
Ms O’Neill said there should be an intolerance of missionary and sexism.
“Since Ashling was assassinated, countless women and girls on the island, including me, will think about their safety as they go about their daily lives,” she added.
“Unfortunately, Ashling’s murder is not an isolated case. But it must be a moment that has become a source of water.
“How often do we hear ‘lucky’ not to be attacked? Because we dare to walk a certain route or go out at a certain time.”
“Well, we’re not ‘lucky.’ We’re angry.
“Because no woman or girl should be subjected to such an abominable attitude or violence to the detriment of human life.”
During a rally with his DUP leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Prime Minister Paul Givan announced that the people of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland had joined together to mourn the death of Murphy.
“We all came together in support of Ashling and her family to express their displeasure over what happened to Ashling Murphy in the past few days,” he said.
“Ashling’s last words to her mother before she left, ‘Mom, I love you,’ surprised us.
“As a father of three, I was thinking about them last night in Lisburn.
“I didn’t think they should be safe, they should be respected, they should be made objective, no matter what society they grew up in.
“They should not be subjected to bad behavior towards women and girls.
“We all have a personal responsibility to change our society,” he said.
“Men need to overcome and resist this kind of behavior.”
SDLP deputy leader Nicola Mallon and SDLP leader Columbus Eastwood, a member of parliament from Foley, said the killings were an attack on all women.
“It’s horrible that women are not safe in the modern world,” she told the Assembly.
“As the political leaders of these islands, we must unite to end this violence.
“As a mother, my heart goes out to Ashling Murphy’s family.
“What makes this murder so horrible is the occasional violence in broad daylight in a busy area,” he said.
“It could be any woman. So it represents an attack on every woman. If a young girl can’t run in a place surrounded by people in the middle of the day, where are the women safe?”
Speaking outside the exhibition, Doug Beatty, leader of the Ulster Unity Party, said society needed to change.
“It was the most horrific murder,” he said.
“Unfortunately, in our society, women and young girls are no longer feeling safe and there is a real threat, so we have to address that.”
“It’s good to see grief over this horrific murder, but it’s not good enough. It’s not a good thing that a young woman ran out in the middle of the day and was brutally murdered, and it’s getting worse. Maybe it’s not a murder, but a crime against women and young girls.
“We have to deal with it, society has to deal with it, individuals have to deal with it, we don’t have to be more vigilant.
“Actually, we need to be less vigilant, because if we are less vigilant, there will be fewer women murdered in our society, and that’s something we need to pay attention to.”
Naomi Long, Minister of Justice and Alliance Party leader, answered questions from the Assembly later in the day that a cross-departmental approach was needed to protect women and girls in Northern Ireland.
“I think, like everyone else in this room, I was sick and scared of Ashling Murphy’s murder, and I think of the people who loved her during this horrible time,” he said.
“I also think the number of women killed in Northern Ireland over the last 12 months is shocking, the last one just before Christmas.
“It should be clear to us that urgent and drastic action is needed. As Minister of Justice, I have decided to do my best, but it is not just for justice, we must do preventive work to prevent women from becoming victims of this violence.”