An SDLP councillor has quit the party after becoming “angered and disillusioned” with what she claimed is its radical new approach to issues such abortion.
Denise Mullen, who sits on Mid Ulster Council representing Dungannon, has joined the strongly anti-abortion republican party Aontú.
In a statement announcing her decision, Cllr Mullen said: “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.”
She added: “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“The SDLP leadership no longer represent the party grassroots.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.”
Cllr Mullen’s profile remained on the party’s website last night, describing her as having grown up in the Moy “in a staunch SDLP family”. Her father was murdered by the UVF in 1975. She sat on the SDLP’s governing body, the party executive.
Welcoming Cllr Mullen to his party, Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD said: “Denise has a quality that is rare in Irish politics. Denise is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in.”
Cllr Mullen’s resigned after a meeting of Mid Ulster Council where the SDLP voted against a DUP motion which opposed the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
Responding to Cllr Mullen’s resignation, an SDLP spokesperson said: “The SDLP’s policy and support for marriage equality is clear and has been for a long time. The party has accepted Ms Mullen’s resignation and wishes her well.”