Northern Ireland news

Fr Martin Magill - priest, campaigner, community leader, festival organiser, author

Fr Martin Magill with his book about the story of the Poor Clare community in Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

FR Martin Magill has maintained a high profile role in Belfast for decades - as a priest, campaigner, community leader, festival organiser and author.

Arriving at the Church of the Nativity parish in 1998, he was later credited with bringing positive social change to the Poleglass area.

As a curate, he won praise for his work campaigning against car crime.

Members of Poleglass Youth Group were so upset by news he was to leave to become parish priest at St Oliver Plunkett in Lenadoon that they organised a protest.

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He stayed in Lenadoon for a decade before becoming parish priest of Sacred Heart in the north of the city in 2013.

In 2017, he returned to west Belfast as parish priest of St John's.

He has been involved in several cross-community initiatives and services over the years, including last year's multi-faith Service of Reflection. It recalled the enormous cost of conflict with the names of all those who died read solemnly, alphabetically and without any comment as they are listed in the book Lost Lives.

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Fr Magill is a founder and joint chair of The 4 Corners Festival, which seeks to inspire people from across Belfast to transform it for the peace and prosperity of all. It consists of innovative events designed to entice people out of their own ‘corners’ of the city and into new places where they will encounter new perspectives, new ideas, and new friends.

Last year saw the publication of a book by Fr Magill about the Poor Clares in Belfast. He wrote it after he "fell in love" with their "fabulous story".

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Using the nuns' community journals, alongside more than 100 photos and illustrations, he created a touching tribute to the order, which left Belfast in 2012 due to dwindling numbers.

Read more: Lyra McKee funeral hears Fr Martin Magill challenge politicians

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