REST IN PEACE, AISLING MURPHY

I can do nothing but express my abject horror at the murder of Ashling Murphy.  It is hard to imagine the agony and anguish being experienced by her friends and family. Unfortunately I can empathise with some of those feelings.  In 1989 Tim Kidman the Gamekeeper on the Slane Estate was brutally murdered.  He was also a friend and lived with us.  My wife was the last person to see him alive and I, together with my PA, found the body.  After the profound shock of the murder other pressures pile on, the investigation, dealing with an intrusive media, the whole process is shattering.  They say time heals and that to a certain extent is true but some of the wounds stay and at that very deeply.  Afterwards nothing will be the same.  The family and friends are in my prayers.

The wave of revulsion against the senseless killing has rightly provoked a national debate about violence against women.  I am sure there have been many and varied conversations throughout the land.  Certainly listening to my youngest daughter about the normal precautions that she takes when out and about was enlightening and shocking.  Take the carrying of keys, to be used as a weapon when attacked.  Not something I would normally consider but for her and her generation now normal practice.  There is no question that there is cross-party support behind introducing measures to curb violence against women.  Helen McEntee our Justice Minister is the right person at the right time.  She will by Easter bring forward legislation to make stalking and non-lethal strangulation stand alone offences.  Together with the full support of the Taoiseach, who has articulated zero tolerance against violence to women, genuine progress will be made.  However, returning to the conversation that must have taken place in many households, there is an acknowledgement that more deep-seated problems are here. A lot revolves around boundaries and respect and that can only be transmitted by parents or taught at school.  We have at least started a national debate.

To be honest, this is the most dangerous of times.  You have a weakened U.S. President in the White House, the Chinese flexing their muscles over Taiwan and to cap it all Putin has amassed 127,000 troops on the border with Ukraine with the very real possibility that they are going to smash their way in and take Kiev.  In the meantime the British, a key member of Nato, are in convulsions over parties held in Downing Street.  Do we care ?  Yes, we should as the future security of Europe is at stake.  So will Boris survive ?  The thing about the man is that in every sense normal rules don’t apply.  Never underestimate him.  At times he can be lazy but he is clever and for a politician has an extraordinary ability to reach out to people in ways others simply cannot.  He won the Tories a huge majority.  He got them Brexit.  He drove a highly successful vaccination programme.  He had a very close shave with Covid.  If they get rid of him, they need to be sure who’s next.