Sterling appoints Interim Advocate for Victims and Survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse

Date published: 02 July 2019

The Head of the Civil Service, David Sterling has appointed Brendan McAllister as the Interim Advocate for Victims and Survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse.

David Sterling said the appointment is the fulfilment of a commitment he gave to victims and survivors to provide a strong independent voice to support and advocate on their behalf.

The Interim Advocate will operate until the Statutory Commissioner for Victims and Survivors of Historical Institutional Childhood Abuse has been appointed, in line with the recommendation in the Hart Inquiry report.

David Sterling said: “This is a hugely significant appointment and one which I’m sure will be welcomed by victims and survivors.

“I’ve met many times with victims and survivors, listened to their stories and heard about the hurt and suffering they have and continue to endure. I have given them a commitment that as a civil service we will do everything we can in the current climate to support them, and this appointment is part of that commitment.

“I have no doubt that Brendan’s appointment will ensure that the views of victims and survivors will be kept front and centre in all future discussions, particularly with regard to the progression of current legislative proposals.”

The role of Interim Advocate is independent of government.

As the primary voice for victims and survivors, he will seek to:

  • Advocate on behalf of victims and survivors during the passage of legislative proposals;
  • Work with service providers to ensure the needs of victims and survivors are both known and emphasised;
  • Reach out to victims and survivors in other jurisdictions; and
  • Be a channel of communication for the sector.

Brendan McAllister said: “I am honoured and humbled to have been appointed to this important role as a representative voice for victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse.

“I am very much looking forward to meeting with as many victims and survivors as possible, and learning more of the issues they have faced and continue to face.

“There is much work to be done and I don’t underestimate the challenges that lie ahead but I am absolutely committed to being a strong, dedicated and supportive voice for all.”

Notes to editors: 

1. Brendan McAllister will take up the post of Interim Advocate on 12 August 2019.

2. Brendan McAllister biography:

Brendan McAllister is 62 years old and comes from Newry.

Brendan graduated with an honours degree in Modern History and Politics from Queens University Belfast in 1979. He trained as a social worker and served with the probation service for 12 years.

In 1992, he became Director of Mediation Northern Ireland and for 16 years led that organisation’s contribution to the development of mediation practice within the Northern Ireland conflict. He was also engaged as a Neighbourhood Renewal Adviser in the North West of England, addressing racial tensions, gang violence and violent extremism. 

In 2008, Brendan was appointed as a Victims Commissioner and served one four-year term. 

In 2012 he moved full-time into the international peace mediation field. He has been a Senior Associate with the Brussels-based ‘mediatEUr’ organisation (the European Forum for International Mediation and Dialogue) since 2012 and currently chairs its Board. He began working for the United Nations in 2015, serving two years as a member of the UN Standby Team of Senior Mediation Experts and, since 2017, as a Senior Mediation Advisor with the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs. 

Brendan is a former Probation Board member and a former Board member of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council.

He and his wife, Elizabeth, are members of the Corrymeela Community. 

3. Media enquiries to the Executive Office Press Office on 028 9037 8142. Out of hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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