Northern Ireland news

Historical child abuse survivors call on victims' advocate to resign amid concerns about connections to Catholic Church

Brendan McAllister was appointed to the role earlier this year. Picture by Hugh Russell

A GROUP representing survivors of historical child abuse has called on victims' advocate Brendan McAllister to resign amid concerns about his connections to the Catholic Church.

A spokesman for the St Patrick's Survivors, which represents more than 100 people who suffered clerical abuse at a west Belfast training school, last night said they are seeking legal action to have Mr McAllister removed from his post.

He said victims were unhappy about Mr McAllister's role as interim advocate for Victims and Survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse as he prepares to be ordained as a deacon within the Catholic Church.

He added that they would not rule out the possibility of staging a protest about his appointment.

Mr McAllister, a former victims' commissioner, took up the role on August 12 after being appointed by the head of the civil service, David Sterling, in July.

Mr Sterling said at the time that it was a "hugely significant" appointment and the fulfilment of a commitment he gave to victims and survivors to provide "a strong independent voice to support and advocate on their behalf".

But last night the spokesman for the St Patrick's Survivors group said members were concerned that Mr McAllister's appointment could be viewed as a conflict with his church connections.

He said they were "deeply hurt and traumatised by his appointment".

"We will never accept Mr McAllister as an interim advocate, " said the spokesman who claimed there was a "crystal clear conflict of interest".

Mr McAllister and the Executive Office last night both declined to comment.

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