The Montrose site in Donnybrook, Dublin 4, from the 1960s (top) to today (middle); under-utiised land (above) on the campus now for sale.
RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes has confirmed that 200 or more jobs will be lost as the company undergoes restructuring.
Dee Forbes announced to staff “some significant changes to RTÉ’s organisational structure”, changes that will “secure RTÉ’s relevance and survival as it becomes a smaller, more nimble organisation over the next 18 months”.
Wide-ranging changes to RTÉ’s executive management structure will see new content divisions replace existing radio, television and digital divisions.
As part of these changes, a voluntary exit programme phased over two years will be introduced in the near future. Full details are still to be finalised.
RTÉ also today announced that almost 9 acres of under-utilised land on the Donnybrook campus has been put on the market, with a guide price of €75m, and that Savills will manage the sale.
Ms Forbes added:
“All of the changes and investment being planned are directly related to the necessary evolution of RTÉ to enable it to collaborate much more successfully, to compete realistically in a challenging market, and to better serve our audiences.”
RTÉ One today announced that Brendan O’Carroll’s brand new chatshow All Round to Mrs Brown’s is joining its Saturday night line up. Followed by The Ray D’Arcy Show, Saturday nights on RTÉ One will deliver a one-two punch of knock-out entertainment.
Fans of Finglas’s most famous granny can expect a mix of chat and general mayhem as daughter Cathy (Jennifer Gibney) interviews a host of celebrities overseen by the inimitable Agnes Brown (Brendan O’Carroll). The result promises to be an entertainment extravaganza full of celebrity guests, audience fun, frolics and outrageous shenanigans.
The six-part All Round to Mrs Brown’s will be simulcasted with the BBC on RTÉ One this Saturday 25 March at 9.15pm. Episode one will feature supermodel icon Pamela Anderson; Judy Murray, the mum of tennis star Andy; and Louis Walsh, plus music from James Blunt. And lots of surprises.
*Flings remote at telly*
Staying in tonight?
The Works Presents: Liam Cunningham takes place at 11.15pm on RTÉ One.
On tonight’s episode of The Works Presents… John Kelly interviews Liam Cunningham and the Game of Thrones actor has some stern words for people who deliberately spoil the show, referring to them as “low lifers”.
Cunningham tells Kelly: “In Spain we were being live streamed while we were filming, from drones. Everything we’ve done has been infiltrated which is terrible. It can appear like we are being precious about it, and it’s not. One of the great things about the show is these bizarre surprises. I’ve seen these cynical critics going ‘oh my god, did you see that last week?’ Suddenly the inner child comes out in them because they have been outwitted and they love it and so does the audience. It’s what we pay for. I like it as well, when I am reading the scripts I go ‘oh you’ve gotta be, you’re shitting me’ and I love that.”
Bryan Dobson talking to Caitríona Perry down the road in Washington DC. What’s wrong with a face to face chat? Nearly as bad as a live link up between two reporters at Leinster House and Government Buildings around the corner! Rant over.
From left: Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín, Communications Director at the IRFU Stephen McNamara, Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, Barrister and Irish Times columnist Noel Whelan and specialist in cross-border co-operation Caitríona Mullan before going on RTE Radio One’s Marian Finucane show on Sunday, February 26
In The Sunday Times.
Stephen O’Brien reported that Ed McCann, INM group managing editor, Fionnan Sheahan, editor of the Irish Independent, and Cormac Bourke, editor of the Sunday Independent, had met with RTE’s head of radio Jim Jennings on March 3 to raise concerns about what they perceived to be an anti-INM agenda in RTE.
The meeting followed a Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio One on Sunday, February 26.
During that show, the panel was: Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín, Communications Director at the Irish Rugby Football Union Stephen McNamara, Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, Barrister and Irish Times columnist Noel Whelan and Caitríona Mullan, chair of the International Centre for Local and Regional Development.
Amongst other things, the panel talked about the recent newspaper coverage of Fine Gael TDs Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney and the future leadership of Fine Gael.
In addition, Mr Tóibín alleged that Niall O’Connor, political correspondent of the Irish Independent, encouraged Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell to name Sinn Féin TDs Dessie Ellis and Martin Ferris in the Dáil while he made a statement about the 1983 murder of prison officer Brian Stack on December 7 last.
A spokesman for INM later contacted the show, and Ms Finucane read out a statement denying the claim.
A source familiar with the March 3 meeting said INM went in “with all guns blazing” and claimed RTE admitted “they got it wrong on the show that morning”.
A transcript of some of what was said during that particular show…
Stephen McNamara: “I suppose the coverage in relation to it is extensive and, you know, if you do love politics then, you’re going to feast on the newspapers for today and the next couple of weeks. I think, sort of, for the lay person, maybe, who’s looking at it and I think that is definitely what people want: is to know more about the policies than the personalities and I think, during the week, what struck me about it is that we were starting to go down maybe the wrong road in relation to, you know, the background of the people and their family make-up and things like that.”
“And that’s actually something that troubled me from early on this week where we had, where we had sort of partners being mentioned and words like ‘attractive wife’ and things like that were starting to come in. So I think that was one area that troubled me during the week.
“I think the Sundays, there’s a huge amount to read in relation to it, in relation to the policies, I think it would be great to get back to that because there’s actually an awful lot of really good stuff happening in this country at the moment. You know – the number of cranes around the skyline…”
Marian Finucane: “They’re growing…they’re having babies again.”
Finucane: “Noel, you were very annoyed about that coverage in the [Irish] Independent during the week?”
Noel Whelan: “Well, I have a very simple view that who somebody is, married or in a relationship, or whether they’re in relationship or not, is entirely irrelevant to the question of their capacity to do their job. In all professions, occasionally, the partner will be more prominent in the office or more prominent at, you know, work-related events than others. But, frankly, I think it’s largely irrelevant. I did feel that there was a sense that it was bubbling, not…what struck me was there was no political reportage from political reporters that this was an issue within Fine Gael, you know, in a Fine Gael contest.”
“It was simply the media and opinion, photographic editing and otherwise, the Independent newspapers, in particular, speaking to troll it effectively as an issue. I think the fact that it has been called out will play some part in pushing it back against. I wouldn’t be surprised if it reemerges later in the campaign.”
Finucane: “Yeah, Michael McDowell is writing on the back page of the [Sunday] Business Post and he says ‘I would not be so cynical as to suggest…’ and he goes on to say ‘a linkage between the new coolness to Leo and his apparent support for the INM pensioners. Leo went public about his discussions with the AG and the Pensions Board chairman to see if he could intervene on the side of the pensioners in their High Court litigation with INM in early December’ and he had said beforehand that you were the darling of the media, kind of up to that, and you got very, very positive coverage. Two questions: How did you feel when you saw that coverage during the week? And what do you think of that suggestion?”
Leo Varadkar: “Well, I think what Michael McDowell’s suggestion there is that because I took a position, supporting the pensioners and staff in Independent News and Media that maybe people higher up in Independent News and Media, you know, took exception at that. And that that might be the source of some of the negative coverage. I’ve actually no reason to believe that. You know? So, I don’t believe that’s the case. But that’s certainly one of the ideas and stories being put around the bubble if you like at the moment.”
“On the more personal issue, I think if you’re in politics you have to have a thick skin. I put posters of my face on poles, I knock on people’s doors uninvited, so you do have to accept a certain degree of attention to your life that you wouldn’t have if you were a private citizen. But, for me, my plan and my view is that: my private life and my family life are not going to be an issue in this campaign or any political campaign I’m involved in. And I really hope nobody else makes an issue of it either.”
Peadar Tóibín: “Yeah, we have an oligopoly in the media in this country. We have a newspaper group that owns nearly 50% of the print media in the State and owns two radio stations. I’ve spoken to journalists off the record and they have agreed with me in my analysis of that affect over the rest of the political debate but they won’t call them out because some day they will need Independent News and Media to pay their mortgages…”
Finucane: “Very likely…”
Tóibín: “Etc, so, that’s one thing. Secondly, politicians typically won’t call out Independent News and Media on these issues because they know that, well, they’ve, they worry, at least, that they will be dealt with in a more abrasive fashion in those newspapers in the future. I think what’s happened in the last number of weeks with regards the focus on the personal lives of the people running in the election is disgusting to be honest. I think it’s absolutely shocking that that would happen…”
Whelan: “Irrespective of who the politicians or the parties were, I just felt the concept of a newspaper trying to set the agenda about what the issues would be in a leadership campaign, in the initially subtle and then unsubtle way, in which the Independent newspapers were doing… and I’m conscious. I mean, I write for The Irish Times, they don’t tell me what to write. And if they did, I wouldn’t write for The Irish Times. But I am conscious that if you begin to comment on what any other media organisation is doing: particularly by one which buys ink in barrels to the extent of the Independent newspapers does. Then you always run the risk of putting yourself in the firing line. And I appreciate that’s sometimes the difficulty Leo and other politicians involved in these kinds of contests may feel they are in, that they can’t actually necessarily throw light on these issues because it’ll only compound the extent to which they become the focus of negative publicity.”
From top: Bill Kenneally; the late Monsignor John Shine
You may recall how the victims of paedophile Bill Kenneally – an accountant from a well-known Fianna Fáil family and basketball coach in Waterford – want a Commission of Investigation.
They believe senior gardai, members of Fianna Fáil, members of the Catholic Church and staff at the South Eastern Health Board failed to act when told about the abuse.
Kenneally was convicted and sentenced to 14 years last February, for abusing 10 boys in the 1980s, after victim Jason Clancy came forward in 2012.
However, certain Gardaí knew about the abuse as far back as 1985.
Further to this…
Yesterday, Damien Tiernan, on RTÉ’s This Week, reported that after gardaí raided Kenneally’s house in December 2012, Kenneally made some admissions to gardaí and gardaí notified the HSE.
However, Basketball Ireland, and a local Waterford basketball club, say they were never contacted or made aware of the situation by the HSE or officials attached to Tusla.
Instead, it was only when one of Kenneally’s victims went to the media in April 2013, that the basketball club became aware of the matter. The club subsequently told Kenneally to leave the club’s committee and he resigned.
Kenneally’s victims now want this matter to be part of the Commission of Inquiry that they’re seeking from the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.
Readers will also recall how Kenneally’s uncle was the late Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kenneally, who died in 2009 and who was succeeded by his son Brendan Kenneally.
Brendan Kenneally was told about the abuse by a Waterford woman in 2002 but he didn’t tell gardai. Instead, he spoke to another uncle and local priest – and former chairman of the board of management at Holy Cross National School in Tramore, Co Waterford – Monsignor John Shine – and arranged counselling for Bill Kenneally.
Monsignor Shine died on Saturday, February 18.
Further to this…
The death of Monsignor Shine has prompted Kenneally’s victims to call for the establishment of an inquiry into the matter “before anyone else with crucial information dies”.
Saoirse McGarrigle writes:
[Victim] Jason Clancy says that the Tramore priest was a “central figure” in the cover-up.
It’s alleged he was told about the abuse, but did not report it to the gardai. Instead he contacted a local TD looking for help to suppress victims’ claims.
“A lot of the key witnesses are elderly, do we need to wait until more die before the minister decides it’s time to get to the bottom of this?” said Mr Clancy.
Mr Clancy and other victims – Colin Power, Paul Walsh, Barry Murphy and Kevin Keating – are pushing for a commission of investigation into who knew about the abuse and allowed it continue.
The men, who are now in their 40s, were abused when they were teenagers in the 1980s.
Their solicitor Darragh Mackin has written to Frances Fitzgerald saying “the passing of Monsignor Shine, who would have undoubtedly been a key witness to any inquiry, has resulted in the loss of evidence to the investigation”.
Superintendent Sean Cashman admitted Bill Kenneally told him he was blind-folding, handcuffing and sexually abusing teenage boys in 1987, but he did not charge the basketball coach because he promised to stop.
Last month Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald wrote to the men saying: “While I am minded towards holding some form of investigation” she was not going to launch one yet, because a fresh criminal investigation is now underway after three other men came forward making reports of abuse at the end of 2016.
“There is probably another 150 men walking around Waterford that have been abused by this monster, this could go on for years,” said Mr Clancy.
He added: “It is not a valid excuse to stop her investigating the cover-up and it certainly was not an excuse given to us when we met her in November…she said that new victims coming forward wasn’t something that would stop a commission of investigation.”
From top: A Panda Waste Management lorry; RTÉ’s Mary Wilson
The Irish Times reported that a new pilot scheme by Panda Waste Management will involve cameras being installed on bin lorries used in Fingal, Co Dublin, to record what householders are putting into their chipped green recycling bins.
The aim is to identify who is putting black bin rubbish, for which there is a charge, into their green bins, which are free, and to fine householders who do so.
The plan is that photographs of the offending rubbish will show who is contaminating their green bins.
The Irish Times reported:
It was revealed on Wednesday that 160 containers of waste for recycling in China were stopped in Rotterdam because of contamination. The rejected waste is being sent back to Ireland at a cost to the recycling industry here of some €500,000.
“It’s a Dublin problem,” says John Dunne, domestic director of Panda, interviewed at the company’s huge Regional Material Recovery Facility in Ballymount industrial estate in west Dublin.
“For every 100 tons that comes in here for recycling, 40 tons is pure sh*te –nappies, clothes, food and garden waste – there’s no other word for it. All stuff that doesn’t belong there. We’ve had dead dogs put in recycling bins.”
Further to this…
On RTE’s Drivetime last night, presenter Mary Wilson spoke to Dublin City Councillor Cieran Perry and Managing Director of the Recycling Division in Panda Waste, Des Crinnion.
Following the Drivetime slot…
Cunning Hired Knaves writes…
“So you think it’s just to avoid paying bin charges, the bad behaviour”, Wilson asked, and asked why people could not go along to a local authority facility and recycle there instead. It was a curious question, since as far as I know, there are no nappy recycling facilities in existence. And even if there were, it is hard to imagine people loading up with dirty nappies to make the journey.
Perry said that in so far as the general public was mixing recycling waste with normal waste, a lot of it was likely down to ignorance, of not knowing what could and what could not be recycling. Crinnion for his part was keen to emphasise that a lot of it amounted to laziness. That is – though he was not drawn on this point – a lot of lazy parents putting nappies into green bins.
Wilson then asked how much was down to ignorance, how much was down to laziness, and how much was down to ‘couldn’t care less’, having apparently opted to set to one side the matter of cost, and the more general question -proposed by Perry- of how waste collection ought to be funded.
In response to Perry’s suggestion that more education would be a more cost-effective means of ensuring proper recycling, Wilson wondered how much more education people needed. “Every child in junior school up is taught about the green flag and recycling and composting and everything else.” Perry countered, not unreasonably, that people were generally aware about recycling, but not necessarily aware, in the specific case of green bins, of what could be recycled and what could not.
Mary Wilson then asked Crinnion about the roll-out of the scheme, and noted that it would be “the citizens of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown first. They’re probably the best behaved, are they?”. The attempt at jocularity could scarcely conceal the class contempt that motivated the question: less affluent locations could be presumed to be worse behaved.
…Prevailing views on household waste production come with a moralistic streak, often encapsulated in the view that ‘the polluter pays’. In the case of homes where there are babies, the polluter in question is someone who cannot help it. All other things being equal, the weight of a bin for a home where there are babies in nappies is far greater than that of a home where there are no nappies used. And they fill up more quickly: we took out the black bins with far more regularity when subjects to the nappy regime.
Hence the costs of waste disposal for homes where there are babies are far higher than those where there are not. Not everyone with babies in nappies has the money at hand to pay for a black bin collection every time it becomes necessary, or, for that matter, the presence of mind required to always throw the right waste into the right bin. That kind of thing is often quite hard, when there are babies to be fed and cleaned, and a home to be maintained.
Thus beneath the moralising disciplinary talk about ‘laziness’ and ‘bad behaviour’, there is the brute fact of a waste disposal regime that penalises poorer parents with babies, one more indication that we have no responsibility for other people’s children, or their welfare. Moreover this regime can only but penalise poorer single parents -usually mothers – even more.
But the consequences of this regime are cast by the public broadcaster – through the words of a private company representative- in terms of the virtue of the rich and the wilful vice of the poor. What is all this, if not a form of widespread pollution?
The Irish Album of the Year 2016 shortlist can be listened to in full on the RTÉ Choice Music Prize website and on 2fm’s website. The winning album will be announced at the live event on Thursday 9th March. As part of the new partnership with RTÉ, the event will be broadcast live on RTÉ 2fm in a special four-hour extended programme from 7-11pm and on RTÉ2 as part of a special RTÉ Choice Music Prize TV programme, approximately one week later.
RAAP, Culture Ireland, The BAI & Golden Discs are also official project partners.
Culture Ireland will fund the attendance of influential overseas Industry executives to attend the Choice Music Prize Live Event, while Golden Discs will feature special stands showcasing the RTÉ Choice Music Prize nominees across their stores nationwide from next month.
You may recall RTÉ One’s report from Monday, by John Kilraine – about the former headquarters of the Unite trade union, on Merrion Square in Dublin, which has been vacant for three years.
It was reported:
“…a trust connected to the trade union Unite applied to be exempted from social housing for a development at its former headquarters…while one of its top officials was planning the occupation of Apollo House…”.
The report went on to say Brendan Ogle, of Unite and the Home Sweet Home movement, gained access to Apollo House a dayafter Unite’s application for a Social Housing Exemption Cert was granted by Dublin City Council.
Mr Ogle subsequently wrote a lengthy post on Facebook concerning the RTÉ report.
Further to this…
Yesterday evening, Mr Ogle spoke to Matt Cooper on Today FM about the matter, during which a statement from RTE was read out.
A transcript of the interview:
Matt Cooper: “Brendan Ogle, Home Sweet Home organiser, also the Unite trade union’s education and policy officer has joined us in studio today. Jimmy Kelly, the regional organiser, of course, was with us on yesterday’s programme to respond to the story which RTE broke yesterday about the former Unite headquarters in Merrion Square being vacant for the last three years. Leading to questions as to why it could not have been used as a venue to look after the homeless people rather than occupying Apollo House in Dublin city centre. Brendan Ogle, can you understand why people would ask that, and regard it as a legitimate question?”
Brendan Ogle: “No.”
Cooper: “Why not?”
Ogle: “I can’t understand why a workers’ organisation and volunteers and members of it, which is an non-profit organisation, a friendly society organisation, comes under attack for helping homeless people. I can’t understand it.”
Cooper: “Attack. Why do you say attack?”
Ogle: “Well, because, this is not journalism. We were approached by RTE at lunchtime, Saturday afternoon. I was approached, notwithstanding the fact I had nothing to do with property. I don’t even own one, nevermind having anything to do with it. And it was a very complex question. And Jimmy Kelly, who you’ve just mentioned – the leader of Unite in Ireland – sought, until today, until Tuesday, to provide RTE will full facts. Bearing in mind, Matt, that it was Saturday afternoon, if we’d got contacted on Monday, or even on Friday, we might have been able to do something.”
Cooper: “Sorry, had you not anticipated at any stage, over the last month or so, that somebody might come along and say to you, ‘hang on a second, you’re very involved in this campaign, you’re leading it down in Apollo House and, as it happens, you have a large building in Merrion Square which has been vacant for three years. If you’re concerned about the homeless, why didn’t you actually use that as a venue to house people?”
Ogle: “No, I didn’t anticipate it. I anticipated that elements of the media were up to no good when they were standing outside the gates of Apollo House, offering homeless people, going in and out, money to tell stories about what was going on in there. That was going on the whole time. So I appreciate…”
Cooper: “I have to say, I know nothing about that…I don’t know which organisations may have done that.”
Ogle: “Absolutely, and actually it wasn’t RTE either, it was print outlets. But I watched it, and I watched it on several occasions. So I anticipated a dirty tricks campaign because any time anybody stands up and puts there head above the parapet, be it the union or be it me or be it a long list of other people in this country – and stands up for people who need help – then agendas quickly set in…”
Cooper: “Hang on, why is it, no, no, no, hold on a second, why is it a dirty trick to ask what many people regard as a legitimate question as to why you did not use the property in Merrion Square?”
Ogle: “Well, first of all, it’s not a legitimate question because we went into Apollo House, very clearly stating – first of all, we were asked could we get into Apollo House by the artists. We’ve stated that, on the record, a number of times. So that loop was left out of the questions. Second of all, we went into Apollo House because it was a Nama property. We already own, and I’m not going to discuss it again – I will if you want, if you’ve the time – but the point about it is: it was a Nama property. As it turns out we were quite entitled to look for time to look into this. When we looked for time to look into it, we discovered that the so-called obligations do not apply at all because there’s only four units planned in Merrion Square. And [former environment minister] Alan Kelly changed the requirements to nine. So we can’t give someone .04 of a unit. And then we discovered today – and John Kilraine could have been told this, if he’d waited till… well I could have said I don’t know why the story was broken yesterday. I know exactly why the story was broken yesterday…”
Cooper: “Well, you assume you know why, you don’t actually know directly. Let’s be fair now…”
Ogle: “I’m suggesting, okay, I’m suggesting and I fully, genuinely and sincerely believe – the story was broke yesterday to damage me, to damage Unite trade union, so the facts that we discovered today would come out after the damage was done. I’m suggesting that, I sincerely, honestly and earnestly believe that to be the case. And what we have discovered is that, three years ago, Unite trade union spoke to a number of groups working with homelessness – which wasn’t as bad then as it is now, but was on the way – and invited them to look at Merrion Square and see was it appropriate for housing emergency accommodation. And one of the groups, the others can identify themselves, but one of the groups that will be happy to identify themselves was Focus Ireland, who came into Merrion Square three years ago, looked at it, looked at the state of the building and decided that, for emergency accommodation for the services they provide homeless people that that was not a suitable location – notwithstanding any planning problems. And we have worked very, very well in Home Sweet Home, we have…”
Cooper: “Hang on, why didn’t you know that or Jimmy Kelly knew that? Who, in Unite, actually spoke with Focus Ireland and why did they not tell you that?”
Ogle: “Well, first of all, Matt. Staff, as you know here, come and go and move through situations and we looked for time of RTE to give a full, detailed response to those questions. If the question had come on a working day, we could have done it quicker. It came on a Saturday afternoon, very bizarre altogether. Saturday afternoon? We looked for Tuesday, I don’t think it was unreasonable, there’s no reason why RTE couldn’t have waited until Tuesday and it took us time to do a search of our records, of our archives, or our emails, and of our systems. We’re not in that building anymore, Matt. We’ve got rid of that building. Our headquarters by the way…”
Cooper: “Have you got rid of it? You still own it, don’t you?”
Ogle: “It’s held by a trust and I think it’s on the market. My headquarters, Matt, and all the years I’ve sat with you in this building and in your previous building, in Abbey Street, you were over there once too, my headquarters is in Abbey Street..”
Ogle: “It’s always been in Abbey Street and what we are saying, putting on the record today, we’ve issued a statement at 5pm is that Unite trade union did that with charities working in the NGO sector. Focus Ireland, I believe, will confirm that – that could have been confirmed, had RTE simply waited until today. But there was a rush to judgment. There was an agenda set, in my honestly and earnestly held opinion and it’s unbecoming journalism and it’s unbecoming of the national broadcaster.”
Cooper: “Ok, but even if Focus Ireland didn’t want to use it, and I’ll come back and I’m going to ask the question: a lot of people would have said, if Focus Ireland had gone into Apollo House, they would have said that wasn’t suitable either. Now, you decided to takeover Apollo House, make it suitable, and the question is, if your issue was looking after homeless people, instead of occupying a building belonging to somebody else, why did you not use a building to which you had access?”
Ogle: “Our issue wasn’t looking after homeless people. Our issue was forcing the Government to fulfil its obligation to look after homeless people. The role, the job of looking after homeless people does not fall on Brendan Ogle’s office, on Jimmy Kelly’s office and Jim Sheridan’s house and Glen Hansard’s wardrobe – it falls on the Government. And the Government have a land bank called Nama and Apollo House was full of Nama. By the way, Apollo House, Matt, would accommodate ten times’ the number of homeless people and an awful lot quicker. We were able to kit it out in a day and a half. That could never have been done in any other building of a similar size and no other building of a similar size was available anyway.”
Cooper: “Nama, though, has offered many properties to various local councils around the country, including Dublin City Council and the various councils have rejected many of those particular properties. So, Nama has actually tried to give properties – is that not an issue? So, why takeover a Nama commercial building for this particular purpose?”
Ogle: “Well, Nama has offered buildings that local authorities have thought to be unsuitable and Nama has refused to offer other buildings that local authorities have sought – these are two arms of the State. Hold on, Matt, now. These are two arms of the State who are talking to each other against a background of at least 7,000 officially homeless people. Now, can I just make this point, Matt, because I don’t know how long we’ve got. I’m happy to stay here all night. But can I make this point: what is so wrong about people giving up their Christmas, using their energy, their activism and their resources – there was no homeless person who died on the streets of Dublin this Christmas, none. There was a fantastic atmosphere in Apollo House, it has put an historic spotlight on this emergency…”
Cooper: “But hold on a second, Brendan, that wasn’t all down to you…in fairness…”
Ogle: “No, no…”
Cooper: “I’m not criticising your bona fides in relation to this, right. But there’s the work of the likes of the Simon Community, the Peter McVerry Trust, Focus Ireland, the work by Dublin City Council as well – in putting new facilities in place. There are an awful lot of people, even before you came along…”
Cooper: “With the Home Sweet Home campaign who have been trying their damnedest…”
Ogle: “Absolutely, and Matt, you’ve never heard me and nobody has ever heard me saying a bad word against any of those people. And despite their best efforts, despite their very best efforts, homelessness continues to skyrocket, we’ve got over 7,000 people, we’ve got Santa Claus coming to hotels and a lot of those people have discussed it with Home Sweet Home and discussed it with me, and discussed it with other people over the last few weeks. This has helped those people and those agencies make the case: what is so objectionable about that?”
Cooper: “Ok, but isn’t Nama’s remit, as set down by legislation, to get as much money back as possible for the State?”
Ogle: “No, it’s not. Section 14 of the Nama Act 2009 provides a remit for Nama to be aware of their social responsibilities. Home Sweet Home have written to the Minister for Finance on this issue, asking to act on it. He sent a holding response two and a half weeks ago – saying he would send a more detailed response which still is not forthcoming. Matt, we do not accept, Home Sweet Home do not accept, and Unite trade union do not accept that Nama is fulfilling the social responsibility ascribed to it, under Section 14 of the 2009 act.”
Cooper: “But, on your website, that you set up, and it’s a pretty basic website, Home Sweet Home, you don’t mention…Nama at all…”
Ogle: “I didn’t set it up..”
Cooper: “Ok, well somebody from Home Sweet Home set up this. It’s a website setting out your objectives under homelessness now. And Nama is actually not mentioned there.”
Ogle: “Well, Nama has been central, Matt. That’s why we wrote a five-page letter to [Minister for Finance] Michael Noonan. When Unite were approached by the artists – so when everybody is attacking Unite, a union that has put more resources into campaigning on water, on change and on homelessness than any other union in Ireland in the last number of years – which seems to be scaring the wits of some people – let me finish, Matt. When…”
Talk over each other
Ogle: “When I got approached by the artists, I got asked to procure, if possible, a Nama building. The Home Sweet Home is specific to forcing the Government. Matt, we can all do our best, the citizens of Ireland, for many, many years have been doing their best to address the homelessness situation in many, many ways. The charities you’ve named have as well. It’s the Government that needs to be forced to do it and Nama was the vehicle. And John Kilraine knows that.”
Cooper: “Ok, we have a statement from RTE because you [Brendan Ogle] have a fairly extensive Facebook post about this…”
Ogle: “I have..”
Cooper: “It says:
‘While we welcome feedback and have processes in place to facilitate feedback and official complaints, we strongly condemn personal attacks on our journalists and presenters. RTE stands by yesterday’s report and its reporting of the Apollo House story which we are satisfied has been fair and accurate’.
Ogle: “Well I will let the listeners and the viewers of RTE judge whether a report that was rushed out – without giving us the two days, two working days is all we requested – and which now turns out we had offered the building to Focus Ireland and other NGOs which can identify themselves and it didn’t meet with Alan Kelly’s provisions in any case. Of course RTE are going to defend their man. I think it’s an appalling standard of journalism and, to be honest with you, it’s something, through the water campaign, we’ve learned to expect from RTE.”