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Wedding guest dies in gun attack, teen couple marry 10 minutes later in Fermanagh church

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Members of the wedding party

Members of the wedding party

A police officer stands where Main street and high street, Newtownbutler meet with the Church of the immaculate Conception and St. Mary's Primary school in the distance beyond

A police officer stands where Main street and high street, Newtownbutler meet with the Church of the immaculate Conception and St. Mary's Primary school in the distance beyond

The  Church of the immaculate Conception, Newtownbutler, with the wedding flowers in the entrance

The Church of the immaculate Conception, Newtownbutler, with the wedding flowers in the entrance

Members of the wedding party leave the church after the shooting this afternoon. Two men have been shot at a wedding in Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh.
It happened in the grounds of St Mary's Catholic church shortly after 13:00 GMT.
Photo by Ronan McGrade/Pacemaker Press

Members of the wedding party leave the church after the shooting this afternoon. Two men have been shot at a wedding in Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh. It happened in the grounds of St Mary's Catholic church shortly after 13:00 GMT. Photo by Ronan McGrade/Pacemaker Press

The shooting took place at a wedding in Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh

The shooting took place at a wedding in Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh

PACEMAKER BELFAST   11/02/2015
Two men have been shot and injured at a wedding in Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh.
It happened in the grounds of St Mary's Catholic church shortly after 13:00 GMT.
Two people are being treated at Enniskillen's South West Acute hospital. There is no detail as yet on their conditions.
The Church of the immaculate Conception and St. Mary's Primary school in the distance beyond.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/02/2015 Two men have been shot and injured at a wedding in Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh. It happened in the grounds of St Mary's Catholic church shortly after 13:00 GMT. Two people are being treated at Enniskillen's South West Acute hospital. There is no detail as yet on their conditions. The Church of the immaculate Conception and St. Mary's Primary school in the distance beyond.

PACEMAKER BELFAST   11/02/2015
Two men have been shot and injured at a wedding in Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh.
It happened in the grounds of St Mary's Catholic church shortly after 13:00 GMT.
Two people are being treated at Enniskillen's South West Acute hospital. There is no detail as yet on their conditions.
A police officer stands beside the The Church of the immaculate Conception Newtownbutler.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/02/2015 Two men have been shot and injured at a wedding in Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh. It happened in the grounds of St Mary's Catholic church shortly after 13:00 GMT. Two people are being treated at Enniskillen's South West Acute hospital. There is no detail as yet on their conditions. A police officer stands beside the The Church of the immaculate Conception Newtownbutler.

PACEMAKER BELFAST   11/02/2015
Two men have been shot and injured at a wedding in Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh.
It happened in the grounds of St Mary's Catholic church shortly after 13:00 GMT.
Two people are being treated at Enniskillen's South West Acute hospital. There is no detail as yet on their conditions.
Polcie Officers guard the road near the Church of the immaculate Conception Newtownbutler.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/02/2015 Two men have been shot and injured at a wedding in Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh. It happened in the grounds of St Mary's Catholic church shortly after 13:00 GMT. Two people are being treated at Enniskillen's South West Acute hospital. There is no detail as yet on their conditions. Polcie Officers guard the road near the Church of the immaculate Conception Newtownbutler.

PACEMAKER BELFAST   11/02/2015
Two men have been shot and injured at a wedding in Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh.
It happened in the grounds of St Mary's Catholic church shortly after 13:00 GMT.
Two people are being treated at Enniskillen's South West Acute hospital. There is no detail as yet on their conditions.
A police officer stands beside the The Church of the immaculate Conception Newtownbutler.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/02/2015 Two men have been shot and injured at a wedding in Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh. It happened in the grounds of St Mary's Catholic church shortly after 13:00 GMT. Two people are being treated at Enniskillen's South West Acute hospital. There is no detail as yet on their conditions. A police officer stands beside the The Church of the immaculate Conception Newtownbutler.

PACEMAKER BELFAST   11/02/2015
Two men have been shot and injured at a wedding in Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh.
It happened in the grounds of St Mary's Catholic church shortly after 13:00 GMT.
Two people are being treated at Enniskillen's South West Acute hospital. There is no detail as yet on their conditions.
A School bus ferrying children home from St. Mary's school is but a hundred yards from the scene of the incident.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/02/2015 Two men have been shot and injured at a wedding in Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh. It happened in the grounds of St Mary's Catholic church shortly after 13:00 GMT. Two people are being treated at Enniskillen's South West Acute hospital. There is no detail as yet on their conditions. A School bus ferrying children home from St. Mary's school is but a hundred yards from the scene of the incident.

The vehicle that was reportedly driven by the shooters was apprehended outside Lisnaskea police station

The vehicle that was reportedly driven by the shooters was apprehended outside Lisnaskea police station

Members of the wedding party

A teenage couple were married yesterday - minutes after a bitter family feud ended with a guest being shot and fatally wounded outside the church.

Bride Matilda McGinley was about to walk up the aisle of St Mary's church in Newtownbutler with groom Jimmy Connors when the violent rampage unfolded.

A disgruntled guest at the Traveller wedding opened fire from the road outside, killing one man in his 60s and injuring a second aged in his 30s. He was Barney McGinley from Athlone, Co Westmeath.

A third man was stabbed with what was described as a "scythe-type" instrument ahead of the ceremony. Witnesses also told how foul-mouthed guests had come to blows in the church grounds.

There had reportedly been tension among the wedding party because of a bitter feud between two members of one family.

Despite the chaos, the wedding went ahead after the shooting.

Parish priest Fr Michael King, who married the couple, said it was at the request of both families.

"I asked the families if they wanted to go on and they were anxious to proceed," he said.

"I did so - but as quickly as I could."

The terrifying incident unfolded outside the church in Newtownbutler, a small village close to the border, shortly after 1pm.

The scene is adjacent to the village primary school, where around 100 pupils were attending lessons.

People had been arriving for the wedding of Ms McGinley, who is from the greater Dublin area, and Mr Connors, whose family are from the Longford and Westmeath region. Fr King said he arrived to find scuffles already erupting between guests.

"When I came to the church grounds there was a group getting angry among themselves in the car park," he explained.

"It came to blows at one stage - they were thumping and kicking each other - and they were swearing and cursing at one another. When it calmed down I went up and spoke to them and reminded them of where they were and that there was a school nearby."

Fr King then went to prepare for the wedding Mass. However, gunfire erupted just as the bride was about to walk down the aisle.

The gunman's victim was shot in the chest and has not yet been formally named.

A second man aged in his 30s was shot in the leg. His injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

Both men were dragged into a white transit van and rushed to the PSNI station in neighbouring Lisnaskea.

The seriously injured victim was taken to hospital in Enniskillen by police helicopter, but later died.

Fr King explained the terrifying moments after the shooting.

"As I was getting ready for Mass there was a bit of a panic at the back," he added.

"Someone ran in and shouted 'someone's been shot, someone's been shot'.

"Four young fellas helped him (the victim) up and took him off.

"I didn't actually hear the shots, I was just told two people had been shot."

Fr King explained that the man stabbed had been "set upon" with a large "scythe-type" blade, adding: "It was bigger than a knife."

Despite the chaos, the priest was instructed by both families to proceed, and the couple were married about 10 minutes after the shooting.

Fr King said he told the bride, who he described as "a bit traumatised", to take a few deep breaths and relax. "I spent 30 minutes or so afterwards in the church having photographs. That was the last I saw of them," he added.

Fr King said it was his understanding that the gunman had been apprehended and given "a bit of a beating" by fellow guests.

Local councillor Thomas O'Reilly said people in the village were stunned.

"People are very, very shocked and saddened that someone has lost their life at a wedding, which should be a time of joy," he said.

One witness said "utter panic broke out" when the shooting began. "People were running everywhere, it was chaos," he said.

Belfast Telegraph