herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Bloodbath feud fears after man shot dead and two injured in wedding row

Police believe that a bitter Traveller feud is the motive behind the shocking gun murder of a man in his 60s at a wedding.

The victim was named last night as Barney McGinley, who is from Athlone, Co Westmeath, and it has also emerged that a male relative of his was also shot in the violent ambush which took place at Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, yesterday afternoon.

Another man was stabbed with a machete during the brutal attack in the border village at around 1pm yesterday - just before the wedding started.

Barney McGinley was flown to hospital in a PSNI helicopter but later died from his injuries. The wedding ceremony subsequently went ahead.

Mr McGinley was a guest at the wedding of Mathilda McGinley and Jimmy O'Connor, who is believed to be from Saggart, Co Dublin.

The couple had planned to hold their reception in a north Dublin hotel but cancelled it after the shocking events. The bride and groom eventually travelled to the hotel with a small group of family and friends.

Senior sources revealed last night that there will be an increase in armed garda patrols in the midlands with fears that the murder will lead to an all-out bloodbath.

Local Cllr Thomas O'Reilly, who has an office which overlooks the entrance to the church, described "chaotic scenes" immediately after the attack.

"Some of the people managed to get themselves to Lisnaskea police station. I saw the police cars going up the road, which was then cordoned off."

The men were rushed to Lisnaskea barracks where they were subsequently taken to hospital by air ambulance. A white van was left abandoned outside the barracks yesterday.

The shooting occurred beside a primary school where classes were taking place. However, none of the pupils was caught up in the incident.

St Mary's Catholic church in the rural border village of Newtownbutler in Co Fermanagh .
St Mary's Catholic church in the rural border village of Newtownbutler in Co Fermanagh .

Parish priest Fr Michael King said he had tried to comfort the bride after the attack.

"I said she should relax and that she was in a safe place," he told BBC radio.

The priest said he realised something was wrong when he heard people screaming as the bride prepared to walk down the aisle.

"She was at the back of the church getting ready when people started shouting 'Shots! Shots! Shots!', I walked out to see what was happening and there was man lying on the ground surrounded by five or six others," he said.

Despite the bloodshed, he said the bride's family were "anxious" for the wedding to go ahead.

The PSNI are investigating fatal shooting of Mr McGinley, who was well known to gardai.

The other shooting victim, in his 30s, did not suffer life-threatening injuries nor did the man who was stabbed.

The murder is understood to be linked to a bitter and complicated feud that has been raging in the midlands for months.

kfoy@herald.ie

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