Monday 21 October 2019

RTE journalist sues union boss over Apollo House comments

JOHN KILRAINE: Lodged legal action against Brendan Ogle
JOHN KILRAINE: Lodged legal action against Brendan Ogle
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

RTE's Dublin correspondent, John Kilraine, has lodged a legal action against Brendan Ogle over comments the trade union leader made during the occupation of Apollo House.

Mr Ogle clashed with Mr Kilraine at the height of the controversy surrounding the occupation of the Dublin city centre office block by homelessness campaigners in December 2016.

The Unite union activist published a lengthy statement on Facebook in which he mentioned Mr Kilraine by name.

RTE and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) issued a statement defending Mr Kilraine following the publication of Mr Ogle's social media comments.

It is understood Mr Kilraine is taking the case in a personal capacity but RTE chiefs are aware of the action.

Details of the case were provided by legal data service Courtsdesk.

Mr Ogle was central to the office block occupation which was supported by musicians Glen Hansard and Hozier. Mr Ogle's Facebook statement came after Mr Kilraine reported that a trust linked to Unite sought to have the union's former headquarters exempt from use for social housing by making an application to Dublin City Council.

It was reported that the exemption was sought at the same time Mr Ogle was planning to take over Apollo House.

Unite regional secretary Jimmy Kelly confirmed that property managers acting on behalf of Unite had sought the exemption as they planned to secure residential planning permission for the building before putting it on the market.

Mr Kelly also said Unite had offered the building to a number of agencies for social housing when the union had stopped operating out of it some years earlier.

He said the building was offered to Focus Ireland, but according to Mr Kelly it was "completely unsuitable for their needs as it stood".

A spokesman for Focus Ireland confirmed the offer. "Unite asked Focus Ireland [and other organisations] at the time would our organisation be interested in possible use of the building for a period of a maximum of three years while the union was developing its own plans for future use of the premises."

After Mr Ogle's Facebook post, an RTE spokesperson said: "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.

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

At the time, Irish secretary of the NUJ Seamus Dooley said individual workers should not be targeted through social media or in public statements.

When asked by text message if he wanted to comment on the case, Mr Ogle said: "lol [laugh out loud] no. I'm speechless." Mr Kilraine could not be reached for comment.

Sunday Independent

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