Northern Ireland

Tributes continue for widely respected Brendan McAllister

Brendan McAllister speaking to MLAs during his time as interim victims' advocate. Picture by NI Assembly/PA Wire
Brendan McAllister speaking to MLAs during his time as interim victims' advocate. Picture by NI Assembly/PA Wire

FURTHER tributes have been paid to former victims' commissioner Brendan McAllister, one of the north’s most respected civil society figures.

The Newry man, who was ordained a deacon at his home city's cathedral in January, died suddenly on Monday morning, aged 66.

A trained social worker, he spent his early working as a probation officer, including two years attached to Maghaberry Prison. Mr McAllister then had a long career as a mediation expert both at home and internationally.

He served for four years as Commissioner for Victims and Survivors from 2008 before spending time carrying out work for international bodies, including the European Union and the United Nations.

In 2019, he was appointed as interim advocate for victims of sexual abuse, a position he held until October 2020.

Former UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, who was appointed a victims' commissioner alongside Mr McAllister, said he first met the deceased while working as a journalist during the Drumcree crisis.

"He struck me as an intensely committed individual, dedicated to working calmly and dispassionately amid environments filled with tension and hatred," the Strangford MLA said.

"Brendan demonstrated a huge appetite for detailed analysis and there is no doubt the Commission for Victims and Survivors would not have been the same without him."

Primate of All-Ireland Eamon Martin said the people in the parish of Kilbroney would miss Mr McAllister.

"Brendan came into ordained ministry after a long life of public service and much of his career prepared him well for service in the diocese as a deacon," he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney tweeted: "Saddened to hear of the untimely death of Brendan McAllister.

"As a victims' commissioner and through his work with Mediation NI, Brendan’s compassion and humanity always shone through."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said Mr McAllister’s efforts were key in securing financial compensation for victims of institutional abuse following the findings of the Hart inquiry.

"He was a champion of a group who had been through the most horrendous ordeal imaginable and was determined to ensure that those responsible were held accountable for their role in this dark period in our history," the Foyle MP said.