Interim Advocate Church role causes split between victims groups

Brendan McAllister was appointed Interim Advocate for the victims of abuse in residential care and has had a difficult time in his few months in post. He has dealt with the new Secretary of State, the stresses caused by the absence of an Assembly, the conflicts within the political arena as a result of Brexit, the falling of the legislation intended to implement the necessary arrangements when Parliament was prorogued and now he faces a different issue.

Mr McAllister is to be ordained as a Deacon in the Catholic church.  It is this news which has angered some survivors.  SAVIA have spoken out against this and feel the close tie to the Catholic Church undermines Mr McAllister. Some have suggested they will consider legal action to have him removed from his post.

However Mr McAllister has received support from a number of other groups who do not see any issue between Mr McAllister’s faith and his role as an advocate for them.

On appointing Mr McAllister, David Sterling, head of the civil service in Northern Ireland, called him a “strong independent voice to support and advocate” for the victims and to act as their agent.  This view has been accepted and re-enforced by groups such as Survivors Together and Victims North West who have come out in support of Mr McAllister following this recent disclosure. Marty Adams of Survivors Together said: “To call for a man to resign because of his Catholic religion/faith is totally unacceptable.”  Mr McAllister also has the support of Jon McCourt of Victims North West as he continues to press for the passing of legislation as quickly as possible.

Ciara McReynolds, Solicitor, BLM

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