Mid Ulster SDLP councillor Denise Mullen, who dramatically quit her party last night, has joined the new all-Ireland party Aontú.
Ms Mullen, who has served as a councillor in Dungannon for the past five years, resigned after disagreeing with her party's decision to oppose a DUP motion about same sex marriage at Mid Ulster Council's monthly meeting.
Peadar Tóibín TD, leader of Aontú, said: “We are delighted that Denise has joined our new political movement. Denise has been a phenomenally active public representative for the people of Dungannon. Just last May the people of Dungannon reconfirmed their trust in Denise by reelecting her as their Councillor”.
"Denise has also been to the fore in fighting for the rights of victims of state collusion. Denise Mullen grew up in the Moy in a staunch Civil Rights family.
Her father Dennis Mullen tragically paid for his Civil Rights activism with his life when he was murdered by the British state/UVF Glenanne Gang in 1975. Denise has always pursued justice for her family and all the other families affected with determination and vigour. Denise has a quality that is rare in Irish politics.
"Denise is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. She has courage and conviction. She will be a great addition to our elected team."
Commenting on her decision to join Aontú, Ms Mullen: “I am delighted that I have made the decision. Like so many people, I have become angered and disillusioned by the radical change in direction of the SDLP leadership in recent times.
"The SDLP leadership no longer represent the party grassroots. Issues such as Irish Unity, Economic Justice and the right to life are being dropped or seriously changed. The leadership of the SDLP are now firmly pro-abortion. That’s not good enough for me or many others.
"I have been impressed by the serious growth of Aontú in just six months throughout Ireland. Aontú has 2,000 members, 60 Cumann and elected representatives from Derry to Wexford.
"We will build here in Fermanagh-South Tyrone and we will seriously challenge the political establishment in the next Stormont elections. I would encourage the many people within Sinn Féin and the SDLP who are sick and tired of the changes in direction undertaken by their leadership to get off the fence and help build a new political movement throughout Ireland."