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Priest who wants to create under-18 rehab unit moved to west Belfast as part of reshuffle

Fr Martin Magill
Seanín Graham

A PRIEST who has worked with teenagers affected by drug abuse for almost 20 years is calling for the creation of an under-18s rehabilitation unit as he prepares to move back to Belfast as part of a diocesan reshuffle.

Fr Martin Magill is to be the new parish priest at St John's on the Falls road following an 11-month 'sabbatical' at Ballyclare and Ballygowan where he was the administrator.

The high-profile cleric has campaigned for increased awareness and treatment for young people with mental health conditions following his work in the west and north of the city, at Church of the Nativity in Poleglass, St Oliver Plunkett in Lenadoon and Sacred Heart in the Oldpark area.

Speaking to the Irish News last night, the 55-year-old said he was heartbroken to be leaving the Ballyclare parish - located in a unionist stronghold with eight per cent Catholics - where he encountered nothing but 'positivity' from all denominations.

"I had been to Ballyclare once before and had got an impression following the flag protests and church attacks years ago. But I have regularly been on the streets and didn't have a single bother. I salute the people from the parish, personally I had a wonderful time there," he said.

"It was a kind of rural sabbatical as I was also working on my first book about the great work of the north Belfast nuns order, the Poor Clare's, as it's coming up to their 90th anniversary."

Fr Magill said he was looking forward to moving back to Belfast and working closely with youth groups and community addictions workers.

"Through my time working with groups such as Families Bereaved Through Car Crime and FASA, I realised that many of the young people I seen had drugs and mental health problems. Some were also victims of paramilitary attacks and many had experienced multiple traumas.

"My priority would be the establishment of a dedicated rehabilitation centre for young people as many of the issues I saw 20 years ago are still endemic. I am passionate about this issue."

His transfer is part of a wider Down and Connor reshuffle announced by Bishop Noel Treanor and also includes that of Fr Manuelito Milo, the first non-national to be ordained in the Irish Diocese.

Born in the Philippines, the 29-year-old came to Northern Ireland in 2007 and has been appointed as a curate at St Patrick's with additional duties at the Mater hospital.

During this time, he worked in numerous parishes, including St Luke' in Twinbrook, Corpus Christi in Belfast, and Kirkinriola in Ballymena.

Other changes included two members of the hugely successful group, The Priests. Fr David Delargy will become the new parish priest of the Lough Shore parishes of the Whitehouse, Greencastle and St James.

Fr Eugene O'Hagan has been given the additonal appointment of Vicar-General. He is already chancellor of the Diocese.

Meanwhile, speculation that Our Lady's of Perpetual Succour in Deanby Gardens, north Belfast was to close due to the curate in the parochial house being transferred to St Matthew's was last dismissed by a diocesan spokesman - who insisted that a parish priest remained in place for the Sacred Heart parish and it would stay open.

The full list of transfers, which will come into effect on September 22, are:

Very Rev Raymond Fulton, to be PP Rasharkin

Very Rev Con Boyle, to be PP Culfeightrin

Very Rev John Forsythe, to be PP Randalstown

Very Rev Patrick Sheehan, to be PP St Mary’s on the Hill, Glengormley

Very Rev Aidan Keenan, to be PP Nativity, Belfast

Very Rev Peter Carlin, to be PP St Matthew’s, Belfast

Very Rev Dermot McKay, to be Priest in Residence, Glenarm

Very Rev Anthony Alexander, to be PP Carnlough and PP Glenarm

Very Rev David Delargy, to be PP of the Lough Shore Parishes (Whitehouse, Greencastle and St James’)

Very Rev Ciaran Feeney, to be PP St Michael the Archangel, Belfast

Very Rev Anthony Fitzsimons, to be Administrator of St Colmcille’s, Ballyhackamore

Very Rev Martin Magill, to be PP St John’s, Belfast

Very Rev Joseph Rooney, to be Administrator of Ballyclare & Ballygowan

Rev Aidan McCaughan, to be Priest in Residence at St Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast

Rev Darren Brennan, to be CC St Mary’s on the Hill, Glengormley

Rev Damian McCaughan, to be CC Ballymena

Rev Dominic McGrattan, to pursue postgraduate studies in theology at the Catholic University of Leuven, Flanders, Belgium.

Rev Manuelito Milo, recently ordained, to be CC St Patrick’s, Belfast

Rev Brian Watters, to be CC St Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast

Mrs Paula McKeown, to be Director of the Living Church Office

Very Rev Paddy Delargy (PP Ballymena), to be Vicar General

Very Rev Eugene O’Hagan (Diocesan Chancellor), to be Vicar General

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