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Friday 29 August 2014

Possible political run for Ogle as 'liberal TD'

Ex-union boss jokes that Dublin South West 'has no left-wing TD'

Niamh Horan

Published 09/02/2014 | 02:30

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Brendan Ogle, head of the secretary of the ESB group of unions arriving for talks in Dublin this morning.
Pic:Mark Condren
22.11.2013
Brendan Ogle

BRENDAN Ogle is considering running as a left-wing candidate in the Dublin South West constituency in the next general election, the Sunday Independent has learned.

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The outspoken union chief has told friends he has not ruled out politics and will consider it as part of his next move.

The former trade union boss has also begun penning his memoirs, due for completion this summer.

The book will cover his work and personal life, from his battle with ESB management to the breakdown of his marriage.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Ogle said: "If I was having a joke with Pat Rabbitte I would say I might run in the Dublin South West constituency because they have no left-wing TD there. I know I have said before that I wasn't thinking about it, but would that not make me the perfect candidate to go into politics? Saying one thing and doing another?"

The Sunday Independent has learned that Mr Ogle, who has a much-publicised fascination with the history and politics of Cuba, is also planning to return to the country for a personal vacation there this summer after a time spent learning Spanish.

But first, Mr Ogle will fly to London in March where he will participate in a campaign to "free the Cuban five".

It is more than 15 years since five Cubans were arrested in Miami and charged with espionage. They and their supporters have claimed ever since that they are the victims of a miscarriage of justice.

Mr Ogle will take part in a two-day commission of inquiry into the case, as part of a small group of Irish campaigners who have been invited over for the event.

Before leaving the job, the firebrand negotiator sent a final note to ESB staff advising them to be on guard for "unjustified attacks" on the members' terms and conditions of employment.

In a letter addressed to trade union members, he said: "I may have made a mistake or two along the way [but] I have been prepared to be held accountable and answerable for them."

He also urged ESB union members to "continue to provide services to this State that are largely undervalued and taken for granted".

Mr Ogle added: "I leave confident that the ESB unions, and you the workers, will now be more vigilant and alert to unjustified attacks on your terms and conditions and able to defend yourselves should such attacks re-occur."

Mr Ogle suffered a personal bereavement in recent weeks with the death of his father.

But despite being advised not to quit his role as a knee-jerk reaction to the loss, the trade union boss told friends it is a decision that has been coming for months.

One friend told the Sunday Independent: "I get the feeling that the Eirigi video and the reaction to that came at the time he decided it was time to move on. He felt the viciousness of the attacks within the ESB and some elements of the trade union difficult to comprehend, but I think the fact that it was matched or overmatched by his supporters is what kept him going. He is happy, too, he left on good terms with those who matter to him."

The 46-year-old had fought off efforts to force him out when the video, in which he described ESB staff as "spoilt" and claimed they had benefited from plenty of "gravy" during the boom, emerged two years ago.

"He ended his time representing ESB members the way he wanted to: satisfied that he was going in his own time, on his own terms.

"Also the fact that he secured the best deal for his members has now given him the freedom to move on," they said.

"He has left them in the strongest position he could possibly leave them in."

News of his resignation as head of the ESB group of unions – coming just weeks after Mr Ogle successfully led a campaign to have their main pension scheme reclassified and treated as a defined benefit scheme – came as a big surprise to members.

Sunday Independent

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