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I'll defy vile death threat over council's flags ban, pledges SDLP councillor

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 24/04/2015

Distraught: Denise Mullen
Distraught: Denise Mullen

An SDLP councillor who is recovering from cancer has vowed she will not be deterred after receiving a death threat.

Denise Mullen said she has been left distraught and shell-shocked by the sinister warning.

The mother-of-two represents the Dungannon area on Mid Ulster District Council.

She believes the threat is linked to the council's decision not to fly the Union flag.

It's understood it was contained in an email sent to the party's headquarters yesterday.

Police confirmed they were investigating the matter.

Ms Mullen, whose father was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries, said it had caused her genuine concern.

"There has been vile abuse and bullying on social media in recent days, but this gives me more cause for concern," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I'm just distraught - totally shell-shocked.

"My father was murdered by loyalist gunman, they tried to kill my mother and I've had cancer.

"I think I've had my fair share of troubles in life without this."

Ms Mullen, a long-time SDLP activist, was elected as a councillor for Dungannon in last year's local government poll. She was just four when her father Dinny was shot dead by the UVF's Glenanne gang in 1975.

The two gunmen tramped across fields to get to the house and threw a clod of earth at the door to lure her father and mother into range.

After finding her father lying at their front door, Ms Mullen sat with him for two hours.

An Historical Enquiries Team report later concluded that members of the security forces living nearby had colluded in the attack.

Ms Mullen has been criticised over the SDLP's decision to join with Sinn Fein in voting through a motion not to fly any flags at council premises in Mid Ulster.

She subsequently wrote on Facebook that she was "delighted" with her party's policy.

The remarks drew criticism from unionists, who accused her of "anti-British bigotry".

It also sparked a tide of abusive messages on social media. One said she should be hung from the council buildings.

After yesterday's more specific death threat, Ms Mullen said she had stepped up her security.

But she vowed that her work serving the Dungannon community would continue.

"This will not stop me doing the job I love," she added.

"There is absolutely no way I will be deterred by these threats. They only make me more determined to carry on."

PSNI chief inspector Jane Humphries said: "Police are aware of a complaint regarding posts on a Facebook page and emails.

"The reports were made to police in Dungannon. Inquiries are ongoing."

Profile

Denise Mullen was elected to Mid Ulster District Council in May 2014. A small-business owner, she sits on the SDLP party executive and works closely with a range of victims' groups. She was previously diagnosed with a rare cancer of the appendix, and following treatment which has put her on the road to recovery she is participating in a medical research study at Queen's University Belfast, and is a member of Cancer Choices, Dungannon. She is a mother of two boys aged four and 13.

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