News: Former Steve Biko HA staff member and anti-racism campaigner passes away

AN INFLUENTIAL priest best known for fighting against racism around the time of the Toxteth riots has died.

Father Austin Smith, who died on March 24 aged 82, lived and worked in Toxteth for more than 40 years, but he was widely recognised nationally and internationally.

Church leaders today described the respect and affection in which he was held, particularly in the black community, as “outstanding”.

Liverpool-born Fr Austin set up his Passionist – a Catholic order – congregation in Toxteth in October 1971 after studying in Rome. He lived in the south Liverpool community for the rest of his life and won particular respect during the riots of 1981.

Church leaders said he was able to articulate some of the deeper race issues of the time.

Later in his career, he worked with the Toxteth-based Steve Biko housing association and was also assistant chaplain at Walton prison until ill health forced his retirement.

Three years ago, Fr Austin moved into Granby care home, where he was already known to staff and residents through his frequent visits.

This article is reproduced courtesy of the Liverpool Echo.

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