Ogle flies flag for Palestinian-supporting soccer fans
Trade union firebrand Brendan Ogle has come to the defence of Dundalk Football Club fans who unfurled a Palestinian flag at a European match and landed the club with a massive €18,000 fine from Uefa.
And Mr Ogle - a season ticket holder and lifelong fan of the club - has issued a formal complaint to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) against RTE and the station's soccer pundit Richard Sadlier. Working as an analyst on RTE's Monday Night Soccer programme, Sunday Independent columnist Sadlier launched a scathing attack on a rump of Dundalk fans who ignored pleas from club officials not to fly the Palestinian flag during the club's Europa Cup defeat to Hajduk Split, after the club had been warned by officials from European soccer's governing body.
The row over the conduct of a number of Dundalk fans has split the club, which currently tops the SSE Airtricity League.
Dundalk issued a statement accusing a rump of disaffected fans of dividing the club.
"We share the concern of Dundalk supporters who fear that they are being misrepresented by a small group of individuals, a number of whom have been involved in other issues that have cost the club a lot of money in fines and who have attempted to create divisions between the club and supporters," the statement said. But Mr Ogle - best known as the former leader of the ESB Group of Unions who successfully led a campaign to have their main pension scheme reclassified and treated as a defined-benefit scheme - says that he watched with approval when the Palestinian flag was unfurled at Oriel Park.
"I would have joined them, but as a season ticket holder I was allocated a ticket in the main stand with the suits," he said.
After the conduct of fans was criticised by Sadlier, Mr Ogle contacted RTE directly.
He has now issued a formal complaint to the BAI
Mr Ogle said: "All this talk of an €18,000 fine against the club by Uefa is, at least, speculative.
"It is not listed on the Uefa disciplinary web pages," he added.
However, The Sunday Independent has confirmed with Uefa that Dundalk were fined and has also learnt that Scottish clubs Celtic and St Johnstone were also sanctioned when supporters unfurled a Palestinian flag at recent European matches.
Mr Ogle said he travelled to Amsterdam to watch Glasgow Celtic take on Ajax last year.
"I ended up among the Ajax Ultras and they were flying a huge Israeli flag and they were not fined," he added. "I support the Dundalk fans in relation to Palestine. Remember they flew the flag the day after four innocent children were killed on a beach as they played football on the Gaza Strip."