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Councillor can never forgive father's UVF killer

SDLP councillor Denise Mullen (right) and pictured aged three at her father Denis's funeral in 1975. Inset: Denis Mullen 
Connla Young

AN SDLP councillor who came face to face with her father’s UVF killer says she will never forgive him.

Denise Mullen has told how she met the man who gunned down her father more than 40 years ago.

She was three years old when Co Armagh man Garfield Beattie took part in the murder of her father Denis (36) at her home near Moy, Co Tyrone, in September 1975.

Beattie was part of the notorious Glenanne Gang which included members of the RUC, UDR and UVF, and was responsible for a sectarian murder campaign in the mid-1970s.

Mr Mullen was a well respected SDLP activist in the area at the time and his callous killing shocked the community.

Beattie, who was 18 at the time, later served 16 years behind bars for his part in the murder which he said was part of his initiation into the UVF.

He also admitted his part in two other murders.

Ms Mullen said that despite the passing of four decades she feels only “hate” for her father’s killer.

“It’s not within my power to forgive him. It’s the man above,” she said.

The mother-of-two said she unwittingly shook hands with Beattie after he approached her in her home village earlier this year.

She was walking when a van pulled up and a man asked through the window “if she was Denise Mullen”. She had shaken his hand before she realised that he was her father’s killer.

Ms Mullen says that after the chance encounter she washed her hands until they were raw.

She later met Beattie at his home along with her friend Eugene Reavey, whose three brothers were murdered by the same UVF gang at their home near Whitecross in 1976.

“I was hyped. I went with the intention of getting information,” she said yesterday.

Ms Mullen said that during the three-hour sit-down meeting Beattie showed no remorse for his actions although he claimed he was haunted by the memory of her standing over her dead father’s body.

“When I met him he had no remorse and that fuelled my anxiety,” she said.

“He is so caught up in his own world of Christianity and has no remorse and has a smirky, cocky attitude.”

Ms Mullen said Beattie provided some information about the activities of the Glenanne Gang and that she has since made a statement to the PSNI’s Legacy Investigations Branch.

The mother-of-two said she has no intention of meeting Beattie again.

“I don’t think I could put myself through it,” she said.

“It sends shivers through me that I might meet him on the road again.”

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