A guest due to attend a Traveller wedding has died after being gunned down outside a church in the North.
The man, who was aged in his 60s, was shot on the roadside near St Mary’s Catholic church in the rural village of Newtownbutler in Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
Another male guest, aged in his 30s, was also shot in the incident while a third is understood to have sustained a knife wound to his hand.
The wedding party and their guests had travelled from Longford and Dublin.
Parish priest at St Mary’s Father Michael King was preparing to conduct the ceremony when the shooting happened outside.
“The bride was standing at the back of the church waiting to come up the aisle and the next thing there was a bit of commotion at the back of the church - several women ran in and said ’there are shots, there are shots, there is somebody shooting’,” he said.
The cleric revealed that there already had been disturbances outside the church prior to the fatal incident.
“There was an altercation in the car park long before the bride came – they were thumping and kicking each other,” he said.
After the shooting, the gunshot victims were driven to a police station in nearby Lisnaskea in a white van. The older man was airlifted from there to hospital in a police helicopter but he later died.
The injuries sustained by the other two wounded men are not believed to be life threatening
After a delay, the ceremony inside St Mary’s church went ahead.
Fr King said the wedding party had asked for the service to take place as planned.
“They said ’father we would like you to proceed with the wedding’, so I proceeded with the wedding,” he said.
“They spent at least half an hour inside the church at the end taking photographs.”
The priest said it was only later this afternoon he heard the injured man had died.
“That really shocked me,” he said.
Newtownbutler councillor Thomas O’Reilly, whose office is close to the scene of the shooting, said the community had been left stunned.
St Mary’s Primary School is adjacent to the churchyard where the incident happened but it is understood no pupils witnessed the events.
“In a very small rural area and village such as Newtownbutler, it is shocking that something like this would happen,” said Sinn Féin representative Mr O’Reilly.
Assembly member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Tom Elliott said the attack was “horrific”.
“It is very worrying that certain people have access to firearms and are willing to use them for any reason,” he said.
“There is a significant onus on police to ensure that these criminals are caught and that the courts ensure they are locked up for a long period.”