Geila Ibram remembered in vigil in Limerick City

Photos of Romanian mother of four Geila Ibram surrounded by candles and flowers at Tuesday's vigil. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

UNDER a gloomy sky on Steamboat Quay in Limerick City on Tuesday evening, around 50 people gathered to remember Geila Ibram, who was killed in an apartment on the Dock Road last Tuesday (April 4).

The vigil was organised by local Social Democrats councillor Elisa O’Donovan and attended by people young and old, intending to shine a light on violence against women in Ireland.

The 27-year-old Romanian mother of four was killed in an apartment block on the Dock Road, just metres from where the vigil took place.

26-year-old Habib Shamel appeared before Belfast Magistrates Court on Saturday (April 8), charged with Ms Ibram’s murder, following his arrest in Belfast. He was remanded in custody until May 2.

It was reported that the Afghan national sought treatment for a wound on his hand at University Hospital Limerick before travelling to Belfast by bus.

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Speaking at the vigil, Cllr O’Donovan said that she wanted to organise the event as a show of solidarity with Ms Ibram’s family.

“It is extremely important when something like this happens. When the news came through, it was just shocking to hear,” she said.

“Even though she had only been here a few short weeks, she deserved to be safe. She deserved to be protected. She deserved to be able to go home alive to her family. That has not happened.”

Cllr Elisa O’Donovan speaking to the crowd gathered at Steamboat Quay. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

Last week, Cllr O’Donovan claimed that while locals in the area were saddened by the news of Geila’s death, they were perhaps not surprised.

“I guess I said that because we know that there have been women who have gone missing in this area, who have died in very violent circumstances in this area. I know from people contacting me that they sometimes do not feel safe in Limerick City,” Cllr O’Donovan explained.

Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan also attended the vigil and said it was important for the people of Limerick to show support to Ms Ibram’s family.

“I think it’s very important that we stand in solidarity with what happened. Everyone in Limerick was really shocked by this.

“My heart was broken. I’ve nieces and nephews the same age. It’s just obviously shocking for something like that to happen.”

Ger Bourke, brother of Sylvia Roche Kelly, who was killed in what was then the Clarion Hotel, just metres away from the Dock Road apartments where Ms Ibram died, also attended the vigil.

He told the Limerick Post that incidents like these are a grim reminder of the loss his family suffered in 2007.

“It’s disgraceful to be honest. When I spoke to reporters the other day I said it’s a common occurrence. That’s not just in Limerick, it’s all over the country.

“Women aren’t safe all over the country. I don’t know what you can do but something has to be done. You see another family – Ms Ibram has four kids, my sister had two kids – you know what they’re going through,” Mr Bourke said.

Karen Sugrue, a social sciences lecturer at TUS and women’s rights campaigner, said that the gathering was important not just to remember Ms Ibram, but also to try to combat anti-migrant rhetoric following her death.

Karen Sugrue and Yvie Murphy. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

“In the wider context of the enormous amount of violence against women in Ireland and globally at the moment, this young woman’s life deserves to be marked,” she said.

“The additional piece to this is that there is a huge amount of racism, hatred, and vitriol coming out about this. Towards this woman, towards her attacker, towards everybody.

“I was very concerned that this woman’s life and her story might get lost in the rush to start blaming people.

“It would be a terrible shame if we lost her story and forgot her name,” Ms Sugrue said.

Attendees at the vigil said that while they mostly felt safe around Limerick City, there is always a concern, particularly after tragedies such as Ms Ibram’s.

“Most of the time I do feel safe, but there’s always a couple of times like this, or like with Aisling Murphy earlier last year, there’s just sometimes when you can’t feel safe,” said one young woman attending the vigil.

Garda investigations into the events which led to Ms Ibram’s death are ongoing. They are still appealing for information.