herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Heavy garda presence for funeral of wedding shooting victim

Members of the wedding party leave the church after the shooting on February 11.
Members of the wedding party leave the church after the shooting on February 11.
A strong Garda presence at the removal of Barney McGinley in Athlone.
Barney McGinley

EXTRA gardai will be drafted into Athlone today for the funeral of Barney McGinley, who was shot dead at a Traveller wedding in Co Fermanagh last week.

McGinley (63) was gunned down in cold blood in Newtownbutler, and another man injured, as Matilda McGinley (17) married Jimmy O'Connor (16) from Saggart in Co Dublin at the ceremony last Wednesday.

Another man was stabbed with a machete during the brutal attack in the border village.

'Small' Barney McGinley was originally from Athlone but lived in Longford.

Just before Matilda walked up the aisle a gunman using a crude home-made weapon shot the two men in the grounds outside.

retaliation

McGinley died from his injuries in Enniskillen Hospital after being flown there in a PSNI helicopter.

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

The gunman has been on the run since, sparking fears of an all-out feud in the Travelling community.

A heavy garda presence could be seen in the town all day yesterday as family and friends from all over the country and abroad gathered at the small funeral home on the banks of the Shannon river to pay their respects.

People driving into the town were met with squad cars stopping traffic and monitoring who was in cars and vans.

Members of the garda regional response unit and the armed response unit also patrolled the town.

The funeral home where McGinley's body lay in repose was directly on the riverfront on The Strand Road, and all the narrow streets leading to it from the Main Street were blocked to traffic by gardai who monitored everyone walking down to the funeral home.

Read More: Face of man man shot dead in wedding row

On the river itself members of the Garda Water Unit patrolled the Shannon in a boat.

From 4pm a growing crowd started to gather, making their way quietly to pay their respects.

Some of the pubs on the main street remained open during the day, but many of the hotels in the town were operating a residents-only policy, and had security placed at doors.

As darkness fell some of the mourners crossed the river to The Quay and requested a satellite van owned by RTE move from the area because they didn't want the funeral on the news.

Retaliation

It is believed the murder was in retaliation for another violent attack on two young men who were hacked with machetes, slash hooks and other weapons last year.

Both survived what amounted to a double murder attempt, but have suffered permanent injuries. At Christmas, a series of threats were issued by men from both factions.

'Small' Barney McGinley was being blamed for instigating the attack on the two young men in the Midlands last year, reputed to be over an alleged €1,000 debt, sources said.

At 7pm McGinley's coffin was placed in a hearse and driven slowly towards St Mary's church in the town, followed slowly by mourners walking behind.

A man sang mournfully behind the hearse as it passed up the main street.

A few yards from the church the coffin was removed from the hearse and it was walked into the church.

A relative followed with a large framed photograph of Barney McGinley.

hnews@herald.ie

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