Friday 20 April 2018

'Ireland's Arthur Scargill' has a history of railing against status quo

Anne-Marie Walsh

OUTSPOKEN and feisty, Mr Ogle is not afraid to speak his mind.

Sometimes described as Ireland's Arthur Scargill, the controversial official has risen rapidly through the ranks of the trade union movement.

He is regarded as a force to be reckoned with by colleagues, workers and management alike.

Born in Dundalk, he began his career as an apprentice and like many workers in the 1980s, emigrated to Britain to work on building sites.

He later found work with British Rail but returned to Ireland in the early 1990s where he got a job as a train driver with Irish Rail.

The union veteran joined SIPTU, one of the unions recognised by Irish Rail, but fell out with the union over its handling of negotiations.

He left SIPTU along with a group of drivers and formed the small breakaway union, the Irish Locomotive Drivers Association.

Led by Mr Ogle, it became the biggest union among the 300 train drivers. However, management refused to recognise the new union and this led to a dispute that caused a series of lockouts and one-day rail strikes.

Mr Ogle penned his book 'Off The Rails In Ireland' to give his perspective on the rail strike that caused chaos for the travelling public in the summer of 2000.

In the book, he revealed he voted for Fianna Fail in 1997 but later joined the Labour Party.

Following the strike, he joined the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers' Union (ATGWU), now known as UNITE, and landed a prestigious role as secretary of the group of five ESB unions.

Long associated with the extreme left, he is a constant critic of the social partnership era.

More recently, he has allied himself with the socialist republican group Eirigi, speaking at its conference on EU and IMF cutbacks last May.

The group claims people have a right to engage in acts of civil disobedience due to the nature of the current economic crisis.

Irish Independent

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