PSNI ‘know’ who murdered man at Northern Ireland wedding

Officer appeals for perpetrators to come forward before any ‘further bloodshed’

The wedding party leaving  the church in Newtownbutler following an earlier fatal shooting in which a 63-year-old relative of the bride was killed.  Photograph: Ronan McGrade/Pacemaker Press

The wedding party leaving the church in Newtownbutler following an earlier fatal shooting in which a 63-year-old relative of the bride was killed. Photograph: Ronan McGrade/Pacemaker Press

 

The PSNI have said they “know” who murdered 63-year-old Bernard McGinley in Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh on Wednesday and have appealed to them to give themselves up.

Mr McGinley from Co Longford died after he was shot on Wednesday afternoon outside the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Newtownbutler.

He was one of the guests at the wedding of two young people from the traveller community, 17-year-old Matilda McGinley from Tallaght in Dublin and 16-year-old Jimmy Connors, who is from the midlands.

Mr McGinley is understood to be related to the bride.

Gunshot wound

Mr McGinley suffered a gunshot wound to the chest outside the church on Main Street in Newtownbutler. He was shot in front of his wife Brigid and some of their grandchildren.

The perpetrators drove off while Mr McGinley was driven by other wedding guests to Lisnaskea police station. From there he was flown by police helicopter to the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen, where he died.

A second man was also injured as a result of the incident but did not sustain life-threatening injuries.

The officer leading the investigation into the murder, Det Chief Insp Una Jennings, appealed to those “who were involved in the confrontation with Bernard McGinley and other guests in Main Street, and who drove off, to make themselves available to police”.

“We are working with our colleagues in An Garda Síochána to locate those individuals. We know who they are,” she said at Lisnaskea station in Co Fermanagh on Thursday.

“It would be better for all concerned if they made themselves available to police as soon as possible so that we can build a complete picture of what happened and the background to those tragic events.”

Det Chief Insp Jennings said that if those implicated did not give themselves up that others might seek to take the law into their own hands. “I would appeal to those involved to think about what has happened and to think about the prospect of a life of constantly looking over their shoulder, fearing arrest or possible retribution,” she said.

“It would be so much better for them, and for all concerned, to come forward and make themselves available to police before any further bloodshed.”

The officer offered her sympathy to those affected by the killing as “what should have been a day of joy and celebration has been turned into one of heartbreak and tragedy”.

“We are following a number of very definite lines of enquiry in this investigation, thanks to accounts of events outside the church before the wedding ceremony given to us by other guests,” she said. “We are continuing to liaise with these individuals and families at this very difficult and tragic time.”

‘Serious altercation’

Shortly before the shooting, local parish priest Rev Michael King intervened to try to stop a serious altercation between a group of men including Mr McGinley, during which there was some “kicking and thumping”.

The arguing stopped briefly but erupted again after the priest went into the church to prepare for the wedding. Fr King said the shooting happened as the bride was standing at the back of the church and preparing to be escorted up the aisle.

Echoing the officer’s appeal, he said: “I would urge those involved to give themselves up to police. I think it would be in their best interests.”