Friday 15 December 2017

RTÉ slams 'personal attacks' on staff by Unite's Brendan Ogle

Unite's Brendan Ogle. Photo: Arthur Carron
Unite's Brendan Ogle. Photo: Arthur Carron
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

RTÉ has criticised what it called "personal attacks" by union official Brendan Ogle on some of its staff in the wake of the Apollo House homeless occupation.

Mr Ogle, who is involved in the Home Sweet Home group that helped take over the Nama-owned Dublin city office block before Christmas, took to Facebook to write a lengthy message of complaint in which he attacked RTÉ staff and accused the station of having an agenda in its reporting of the Apollo House story.

He criticised 'Liveline' host Joe Duffy and Dublin correspondent John Kilraine, and said that RTÉ "as an impartial public service broadcaster, is dead. And getting 'deader'".

The allegations have been flatly rejected by management at Montrose.

"While we welcome feedback, and have processes in place to facilitate both feedback and official complaints, we strongly condemn personal attacks on our journalists and presenters," RTÉ told the Irish Independent.

"RTÉ stands by its reporting of the Apollo House story, which we are satisfied has been fair and accurate."

Seamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said Mr Ogle is entitled to his view. "However, as an experienced and committed trade union official, I find it disappointing that Brendan should target named individual workers via social media posts or public statements, especially in a manner he and his colleagues would find unacceptable in relation to individual workers represented by his own union," he added.

Mr Ogle's 1,777 word statement came after he defended his trade union's decision to get an exemption from social housing for an apartment development at its former city headquarters

Media reports early this week said the building on Dublin's Merrion Square, owned by the Unite union, has been empty for nearly three years at a time when campaigners including Mr Ogle had been calling for the use of vacant properties to ease the homeless crisis. In December, a trust connected to the union applied to be exempted from social housing in the development for a house and four apartments.

However, it later emerged that Unite did offer the Merrion Square building for homeless services. The building was reviewed by Focus Ireland, however it was considered "totally unsuitable for any of our projects or house as it would have required extensive refurbishment, significant investment and planning permission".

In his online message, Mr Ogle (pictured) branded Ireland's media and democracy as "broken and agenda laden" and vowed to launch a new media outlet in the coming months.

"The country is being run by, and for, elites embedding inequality in everyone and everything. We will be launching in the coming months a daily news media outlet to go with our existing permanent political school for communities all over Ireland," he said.

Irish Independent

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