Face of man man shot dead in wedding row

Barney McGinley

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thumbnail: Barney McGinley
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By Ken Foy and Sam Griffin

This is the man who was gunned down in cold blood at a Traveller wedding in Co Fermanagh.

Barney McGinley, who is in his 60s and from Athlone, Co Westmeath, is believed to be the victim of a feud in the Traveller community.

A male relative of his was also shot in the violent ambush which took place at Newtownbutler 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 between Mathilda McGinley (17) and Jimmy O'Connor (16) subsequently went ahead.

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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.

A manager of the hotel today confirmed to the Herald that the bride and groom had stayed overnight after having photographs, but left early this morning for the airport.

"There was no expense spared on the function room, they had the best of everything, but around a dozen of them came after the wedding and helped dismantle it all," the manager said.

"It's a terrible shame because it was a very well planned event, with wedding organisers and everything. I'd say they must have spent around €10,000 on the function room alone."

Gardai patrolled the hotel's surroundings for a time last night but there was no trouble.

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.

Parish priest Fr Michael King said there had been an earlier row before the wedding started, but that had calmed down. Then as the bride waited to come down the aisle the shooting started.


"She was lined up at the back of the church, ready to come up the aisle. Suddenly I heard this screaming - 'There's a shot, a shot, somebody has been shot'," he said.

"I came back out to see what had happened. I saw nothing in the church grounds but I saw a man being lifted off the footpath some distance away at the entrance into a church. He was put into a van and they were obviously rushing him to hospital," he added.

"I didn't realise how bad his injuries were. There was a second man had leg injuries. The other man I believe was shot in the chest," Fr King explained.

He said he gave the couple the option of going ahead with the ceremony.

"I wasn't prepared to go ahead. The mother of the bride insisted that the wedding go ahead. I ceded to her request and went ahead," he explained.

"Admittedly the bride herself was fairly frightened and afraid and looked shocked herself," he added.

The PSNI are investigating the 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.