Funeral of Falls Road stalwart John Leathem

Former Housing Executive chief executive Paddy McIntyre pictured with community stalwart John Leathem in Divis Tower in 2009.

The funeral of west Belfast community stalwart John Leathem will take place today, leaving from his Divis flats home where he passed away after a battle with cancer on Saturday.

A former chairman of the Divis Tower Falls Residents' Association, he had told friends that he did not want to spend his final days in the hospice but instead chose to die in his flat on the 19th floor of the tower block surrounded by family and friends.

The 59-year-old, who spent much of his childhood in Catholic Church run care homes gave evidence to the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry about his time in Nazareth Lodge where he was subjected to horrific abuse.

He was also credited with being one of the first people to speak out about the stigma and lasting impact of church child abuse and the the depression and self harm that blighted his late teens and early 20s as a result.

However, he is best known for his tireless community work on behalf of the people of the lower Falls.

Margaret McGuckin of the Savia support group said he was a survivor who wasn't afraid to speak out, "we send deepest sympathies to his friends and colleagues".

John Leathem's remains with leave his Divis Tower home today at 10.45am for a Service in Roselawn Crematorium at 12noon.

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