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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 20 November, 2019
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"We know who they are": Police tell wedding shooters to turn themselves in

The teenage bride was said to have “had the look of being frightened the whole way through the liturgy”.

Updated 4.48pm

POLICE IN FERMANAGH have asked the people involved in a shooting at a wedding yesterday to give themselves up.

In a blunt statement today, the PSNI told the perpetrators: “We know who you are. 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 yesterday and the background to those tragic events.”

Bernard McGinley, 63, was shot outside St Mary’s Chapel in Newtownbutler at about 1pm yesterday.

A wedding was taking place inside the church at the time of the shooting.

The victim was driven by other guests to Lisnaskea police station. He was then flown by police helicopter to the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen where he later died from his chest injuries.

“What should have been a day of joy and celebration has been turned into one of heartbreak and tragedy,” Detective Chief Inspector Una Jennings said today, adding that there are ”very definite lines of enquiry…thanks to accounts of events outside the church before the wedding ceremony given to us by other guests”.

She specified that today’s appeal was for those individuals 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,” she added.

The Chief Inspector also warned against any further violence.

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. 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.

***

Earlier, the priest performing the wedding Mass for a young couple in Fermanagh yesterday has expressed his shock at the shooting outside his church.

Fr Michael King told Morning Ireland that it was “unfortunate that people had gathered together for a celebration” and “that it ended in circumstances like this”.

“I sympathise with the families who are bereaved as a result of this tragic incident,” he continued.

He said he had been reticent to go ahead with the wedding following the shooting but that the mother-of-the-bride insisted the ceremony take place.

“I ceded to her request… Admittedly now, the bride was fairly afraid and looked shocked. When she came up from the church, I did my best to try to get her relaxed a bit.

She had the look of being frightened the whole way through the liturgy and the Mass.

“I was sorry for her in that sense.”

The priest said he did not see the shooting as he was waiting for the bride in the vestry.

“The bride was outside, they were taking photographs. The bride eventually came in. She was lined up at the back of the church to come up the aisle and then suddenly I heard this screaming: ‘There’s a shot, there’s a shot. Somebody shot, somebody shot.’

“So, I went back out to see what had happened. I saw nothing on the church grounds, thankfully. But, I saw a man being lifted off the footpath down some distance from the entrance to the church.

“He was put into a van and, obviously, they were rushing him to hospital. I didn’t realise how bad his injuries were.”

Two other men were injured in the incident.

Fr King described how a number of the wedding guests were screaming and shouting as they ran into the church, seeking shelter.

He confirmed the couple were both members of the Traveller community and were still in their teens.

“Both of them were under 18. The girl was just over 17 and the boy just over 16. It was arranged about three or four months ago.”

He noted that there is a tradition in the Traveller community to marry at a young age, something he says he spoke to this couple about “umpteen” times.

“I’d certainly say I was shocked by the events. I’ve been thinking about them ever since. But in another sense, I’m not surprised,” he told the RTÉ presenter. “There is a subtext in Traveller weddings. There is always something simmering beneath the surface, waiting to explode. Yesterday, it exploded.”

However, he added that violence is “not unique” to the Traveller community.

It is understood the wedding reception was cancelled following the man’s death.

More: Wedding goes ahead after fatal shooting at church

Read:  “I thought this only happened in movies”: Dublin fire fighters deliver baby at home

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