A Moy woman who witnessed her father’s murder at the hands of the Loyalist Glennane Gang at just four, is one of 13 new appointments to the Victims and Survivors Forum.
Mother-of-two Denise Mullen recalls telling other children about the UVF and IRA in the school yard when asked “how did your daddy die?” in primary one.
Now she hopes to use her new position to help put an end to the “transgenerational trauma” she has tried hard to shield her own children from.
Speaking to the Times after her new role was announced, Denise said: “That’s not normal, I do not want my children dealing with that. I want to stop passing on this transgenerational trauma... we need to break away from it all.”
She went on to say: “I can remember several occasions in P1, when I was asked: ‘How did your daddy die?’
“I can remember (being) out in the school yard, with a group round me, and me explaining to them what the UVF and what the IRA was at four years of age.”
Now Denise, who’s also a Mid Ulster SDLP councillor, will play a part in forming draft legislation - which Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson hopes will deliver legacy bodies set out in the Stormont House Agreement.
The 23-person group, which has been drawn from a wide panel of victims and survivors, will also help the commission on wider issues around victims.
Delighted with her selection, Denise Mullen said: “To be afforded this opportunity is brilliant. I am passionate on victims... (with) first hand experience.”
Her father Denis, who was a SDLP political activist, was gunned down on his doorstep on September 1, 1975, and her mother Olive’s life also targeted.
“I want transparency,” Denise added.
“I have felt frustrated for years.
“Victims issues come out - some of them I agree with and some I don’t - and you become very agitated by that.
“I work with and am friends with so many victims that I have met through different organisations and legal processes.
“Drawing on their experiences and my own experiences, I am just delighted to be chosen. So many people are torn by the definition of a victim,” she went on, “so it’s putting all these issues to bed and getting clarity on them.”
Welcoming the new members, Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson said: “The experiences of our forum members, past and present, are diverse but what unites them is the belief that the events of the past must not happen again.”