Difficult return to dad’s murder scene

Denise Mullen Fox who revisited the family home for the first time since the tragedy.INTT4313-301SR
Denise Mullen Fox who revisited the family home for the first time since the tragedy.INTT4313-301SR

A DUNGANNON woman whose father was brutally shot dead by loyalists, has bravely overcome her fears to return to her former family home for the first time since the murder nearly 40 years ago.

Father-of-two Denis Mullen, described after his death as “a kindly and gentle Christian man of peace”, was gunned down at his home near Moy on September 1, 1975.

Denise Mullen Fox, then aged four, in the arms of her mother Olive at her father's funeral.

Denise Mullen Fox, then aged four, in the arms of her mother Olive at her father's funeral.

The murder of Mr Mullen - who was an SDLP activist and an ambulance controller - captured headlines at the time when his four year-old daughter Denise was pictured in the arms of her mother Olive at his packed funeral service, which was attended by then leader of the SDLP, Gerry Fitt, as well as prominent party figures Austin Currie and Ivan Cooper.

Memories of the night of her father’s murder have been painfully clear for Denise, her mother Olive, who was also an SDLP activist, and her brother.

Denise, who is campaigning for the truth behind the murder, vividly recalls sitting in her nightdress next to the body of her beloved father when police arrived at the house.

Now following in her father’s political footsteps with the SDLP in Dungannon, Denise had never returned to the house where those horrific events took place.

Last week, however, she managed to overcome her personal demons by travelling to the scene of the murder to take part in filming for a Channel 4 News feature, which will be screened this Thursday evening, October 24, at 7pm.

“I suppose the real difficulty for me wasn’t so much going back to the yard or the house, because it has been knocked down since then”, explained Denise.

“The hard est part was driving down the laneway and seeing the gates that Daddy put on weeks before the murder.

“It is very difficult as a family to accept that Daddy was murdered in this way because both he and Mummy were campaigning, through the organs of the SDLP, for equality and civil rights for all.

“Denis Haughey described Daddy in a death notice to the Irish News at the time as ‘a kindly and gentle Christian man of peace. A caring and devoted husband and father’ .

“I wasn’t looking forward to making the journey back to our old home but, in a way, I’m glad that I was able to do it.”