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Fermanagh wedding murder led to ‘reprehensible’ violent row in Longford, court hears

Four members of a midlands based traveler family who became embroiled in a violent row outside a petrol station in Longford over the shooting dead of a relative in Northern Ireland almost seven years ago have been given suspended sentences.

Sammy McGinley (33), Denis McGinley (37), both of 6 Blackberry Lane, Athlone, Co Westmeath, Mick McGinley (20) 5 Blackberry Lane, Athlone, Co Westmeath and Bernard McGinley (22) 10 Blackberry Lane, Athlone, Co Westmeath were all charged with violent disorder following an incident at Hanlons Gala, Dublin Road, Longford on June 3, 2019.

The quartet appeared before a sitting of Longford Circuit Criminal Court today for the purposes of sentencing.

Mick and Bernard McGinley were also charged with criminal damage and theft respectively with Sammy and Denis being charged with possession of an article on the day in question.

Sammy, Denis and Mick McGinley were all given 18 month sentences, suspended for a period of five years on the condition each of the men enter into a €500 peace bond and pay €2,000 in compensation to Longford Tidy Towns.

Bernard McGinley, meanwhile, was given a one year sentence, suspended for five years after the court found his participation in the incident was at the “lower end” of the scale.

He was also ordered to pay a sum of €1,000 to Longford Tidy Towns

Garda Rachel Dillon told the court how she and colleague Garda Leo Shiel were passing by a petrol station on Longford’s Dublin Road at around 8:30pm when a large group of people were observed in a fight in full view of started members of the public.

Garda Dillon said the violence on display was so grave, customers had to lock themselves in their cars while staff had to close the main door of the shop “to keep customers safe”.

The court heard a family member of the McGinleys pulled up to purchase diesel when four other men approached the van Mr McGinley arrived in.

She said Garda Shiel noticed Denis McGinley holding a five foot long stick before seizing it and arresting him under Section 24 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act.

She said during his attempts to restrain Mr McGinley, another man picked up the stick as the melee escalated.
Sammy McGinley, it was revealed was seen “shouting and inciting others” while Mick McGinley could be observed breaking the passenger side window of a vehicle.

CCTV footage taken from the scene also showed Bernard McGinley taking the keys of the vehicle before putting them into a bin.

All four were arrested and charged with violent disorder on December 8, 2020.

Sammy and Denis McGinley were also charged with possession of a weapon with Bernard McGinley being charged with theft.
Mick McGinley was further charged with damage to property.

In a voluntary caution statement given to Gardai in October 2019, Denis McGinley said he had been in Longford that day to settle a dispute between two other locally based traveler families.

He told of receiving a phone call that evening of a disturbance involving his son and arrived on the scene moments later.
CCTV footage of the episode lasting around 30 minutes was played before presiding Judge Keenan Johnson this afternoon.

Gerard Groarke BL, for Sammy McGinley said the incident was not one of an ongoing feud but rather “differences” which had arisen between the “Longford McGinleys and McGinleys from Athlone” over the murder of Bernard ‘Barney’ McGinley in Northern Ireland in 2015.

A father and son were jailed for a total of seven and a half years in 2018 over a shooting outside St Mary’s Catholic Church in Newtownbutler on February 11, 2015.

Judge Keenan Johnson described the incident as “totally reprehensible”, saying the people of Longford should not be subjected to such acts of brazen violence and in full view of shocked members of the public.

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