A Derry-based counselling group for victims of sexual abuse says it continues to be inundated with inquiries in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Earlier this week, the ‘Journal’ reported that Nexus - which has offices at Clarendon Street in the city - had been flooded with calls in response to widespread claims of horrific abuse at the hands of the disgraced TV star.
Helena Bracken, manager of the local office, said that, as a result of Tuesday’s front page story in the ‘Journal’, her staff had been kept extremely busy.
“Most of the people contacting us are saying that it is the continuing revelations about Jimmy Savile that is triggering them to lift the phone,” she said.
She also confirmed that none of these calls related to actual abuse at the hands of Savile.
However, she did say that, given the number of times Savile visited the North - allied to his “opportunistic and predatory” tendencies - “no-one, at the minute, can say for certain he did not have opportunities to prey on young people here.”
“There may be people in Northern Ireland who were victims of this man and, if there are, they should not suffer in silence but should come forward and seek help,” she said.
Ms. Bracken’s remarks come as details emerge of Savile’s visits to Derry. Photos from almost 40 years ago show the TV star pictured with a group of local kids when he visited the city for a charity walk - called ‘Savilecade’ - between Derry and Eglinton.
A ‘Derry Journal’ photographer took a series of snaps when the children met the celebrity at St Columb’s Park in the summer of 1974.
We have blurred the faces of children pictured with Savile to protect their identities. There is no suggestion, however, that any alleged crime ever took place in relation to this visit.
The ‘Journal’ can also reveal that, in 1977, a group of children from the city travelled to London to meet Savile while he was filming his popular ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ TV programme.
It was in December 1977 that the schoolkids met Saville at BBC Studios at Shepherd’s Bush. Again, there is nothing to suggest that anything inappropriate took place during this visit.
The PSNI, meanwhile, says there have been no reports to its Child Abuse Investigation Unit of alleged assault by the late TV presenter in either Derry or across Northern Ireland.
A spokesperson for the Western Health Trust (WHSCT) - which runs Altnagelvin Hospital - said that, since its establishment in 2007, it had had no visits from Savile.
“The Trust is not in a position to comment on the legacy trusts that predated 2007,” added the spokesperson.
Detectives in England are currently following 400 lines of inquiry as part of the investigation while the BBC has launched an inquiry into the culture and practices at the corporation in the era of Savile’s alleged sexual abuse.