A member of the notorious ‘Glenanne Gang’ death squad is being investigated after a shocking death threat was made against Aontú councillor Denise Mullen, the daughter of a man previously murdered by the gang.
The death threat was issued in the name of the East Tyrone Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and was delivered to the Aontú Mid Ulster Councillor (pictured, right) after she pursued a justice campaign for her father.
SDLP activist Denis Mullen (pictured, inset) was shot dead at his home near Moy, County Tyrone in September 1975.
Garfield Beattie served 16 years behind bars for his part in the murder of Mr Mullen and two other innocent victims. He was a former member of the UVF and the British Army’s Volunteer Reserve.
The Glenanne Gang included members of the British Crown forces as well as unionist paramilitaries. Beattie was a significant figure in its death squads, which were responsible for a sectarian terror campaign in the mid-1970s with some 120 victims.
He was released on licence under the Good Friday Agreement, but has now been questioned by the PSNI in regards to the death threat.
“I have seen the death threat. It is absolutely shocking,” Aontú Leader Peadar Tóibín said this week.
“It threatens to destabilise the Good Friday Agreement.. I have spoken to [Ms Mullen] a number of times in the last few days and as you can imagine this has created extraordinary fear and anxiety.”
Mr Tóibín said the actions of the Glenanne Gang had been ignored by successive governments in Dublin, but that this threat had direct ramifications for the whole peace process.
He told the Dublin parliament: “Denise, then aged just four, discovered her father’s lifeless body and was forced to stay beside him for two hours over fears there was a bomb inside the family home.”
The incident last week “has caused shocking fear and anxiety for Denise and her family,” he said. “It’s also a threat to the peace process”.
Ms Mullan received the death threat in the same week as Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan sought to undermine the Glenanne families’s campaign for justice by making false claims against the recently broadcast documentary film, ‘Unquiet Graves’.
But the latest incident apparently encouraged Taoiseach Micheal Martin to relent and end his refusal to meet with the families of the victims.
Responding to Mr Tóibín, Martin said: “What the Glenanne gang did, we know, was the worst possible manifestation of evil by any gang, perpetrated on innocent people. I hold no truck with that sort of thing.
“I share the deputy’s empathy with the Mullen family and I would be more than happy to meet with them.”
Lawyers for the families have also now written to the British Direct Ruler calling for Beattie’s release licence to be revoked. Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, said: “The news that a member of the Glenanne gang has been arrested affects a number of families of his victims.
“We now call on the Secretary of State to revoke this man’s licence immediately. It’s the obvious and legally proportionate response to the latest revelations.
“Brandon Lewis needs to act right now in order to prevent any further escalation of stress and trauma families are suffering.”