Belfast Telegraph

Abuse victims’ anger over advocate Brendan McAllister's new Catholic Church role

Brendan McAllister
Brendan McAllister
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

More than 100 people who suffered clerical abuse in a west Belfast school are considering taking legal action to have a victims' advocate removed from his post.

It follows the revelation that Brendan McAllister, the Interim Advocate for Victims and Survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse, is preparing to be ordained as a deacon within the Catholic Church.

The former Victims' Commissioner took up the role on August 12.

A former resident of St Patrick's Training School said: "How can we trust Mr McAllister to be a true advocate for us if he is a member of the very same institution that abused us?"

There is no suggestion that Mr McAllister is anything other than entirely independent but his forthcoming appointment is an issue for the victims considering this action.

The former resident of the juvenile facility, which was run by the De La Salle Order, belongs to a support group made up of around 140 former residents.

"We have a few legal options open to us and we are now considering the best way to proceed," they said.

The children's home was among 22 facilities investigated over claims of rampant sexual, physical and emotional abuse in state, voluntary and Church-run institutions between 1922 and 1995.

Over 300 victims provided harrowing testimony and a barrister acting for the De La Salle order said they "accept and deeply regret that boys in their care were abused".

In July, David Sterling, head of the civil service, said the "hugely significant" appointment of Mr McAllister was the fulfilment of a commitment he gave to victims and survivors to provide a strong independent voice to support and advocate on their behalf.

Victims' campaigner Margaret McGuckin, who represents the lobby group Savia, said it has also called for Mr McAllister's resignation. She said she would support legal action to force him out of the role.

"Our people our seriously shocked, upset and disappointed by this disclosure," she said.

Both Mr McAllister and the Executive Office declined to comment.

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