The Man In The Van




From top: John Kilraine of RTÉ; Unite’s Brendan Ogle;

The contents of this post about trade union Unite and its former headquarters on Merrion Square has been removed as they were the subject of legal proceeding taken by RTÉ journalist John Kilraine against housing activist Brendan Ogle that have been settled with a full apology:

Unite union sought social housing exemption for former Dublin HQ (RTE)

Unite offered temporary use of HQ to homelessness services (RTE)

96 thoughts on “The Man In The Van

  1. Rob_G

    Ok, so now I think I understand:

    Empty buildings lying vacant owned by Nama = bad

    Empty buildings lying vacant owned by trade unions = ok

    1. Vote Rep #1


      The report wasn’t about HSH. Its about he tries to repeatedly to say that was what it was about. There has been repeated complaints about derelict buildings in Dublin, including on here, yet when when it involves someone close to BS, suddenly it is fine and a hatched job by RTE. Also, he says that the building was exempt yet an application was still made. Regardless of whether is was exempt, they didn’t want social housing there.

      1. Cian

        actually he said that while their proposed building work was exempt an application still has to be made to get the Social Housing Exemption Cert. Which they applied for.

    2. Nialler

      I think he mean’t Rob:

      Empty buildings lying vacant owned by NAMA = you and all Irish citizens = occupy as it’s technically part owned by the people occupying it hopefully supported by all the other part owners (citizens)

      Empty buildings lying vacant owned by a trade union = illegal to occupy as privately owned pretty similar if you emigrated to Oz for a year so they take it upon themselves to move in, you wouldn’t be happy

      Not and never have been a member of a trade union, never in a job that offered it tbh just clarifying what I think he meant

      1. Steve

        Nobody is saying UNITE’s building should be occupied like apollo.

        Apart from applying from the exemption , which whatever way Ogle spins it, is embarrassing, it’s just disappointing that unite didn’t think at the time to OFFER up their premises , which has accommodation facilities, given all the attention over Christmas / New Years on our homeless problem.

        This has nothing to do with Apollo house.

          1. Steve

            Anne not talking about NAMA and Apollo house.

            What do you think of Kelly in UNITE saying that they applied for the exemption so as to ensure maximum value was achieved for the property on merrion street?

            Rings a bell to that oft quoted piece about NAMA legislation getting the best return for the state.

          2. Anne

            I’m not following yours or RTEs agenda thank you very much.

            You should be talking about NAMA and the housing crisis, anything else is a deflection.

            I don’t give a tuppenny fupp what a union want to do with their building.

            The government have a responsibility to house the homeless and build social housing, NOT a union.

  2. Shay G

    Strip away the dogma and the self-righteousness, and you’re left with ‘do as we say not as we do’.

    Ogle might not have been aware of the empty building but ignorance is no defence.

    A truly embarrassing episode for all trade unionists in this country, myself included.

  3. Steve

    Don’t buy everyone is against us argument. Too easy to shift blame for ones own mistakes.

    Also When you’re explaining you’re losing. Jimmy Kelly admitted yday that they well knew that having social housing nearby would lower value of property, best “return” for members on property needed. How positively capitalist.

    And there was no need for UNITE to apply for Kelly’s exemption. It’s not enforced. They could have ignored this provision in solidarity with their fellow man.

    Pity this / couple who aren’t homeless/ Quentin etc is taking away from the sentiment / great work of HSM.

    Just shows nothing is ever black and white.

    1. Conor

      Steve, have you not read the article, or are you thick?
      If a development has less than 10 units you HAVE TO apply for the exemption.

  4. Loan Some Cow Boy

    Ad for trade union official

    Usual derisory bunch of online alt-right losers gangbanging on here as well

      1. Loan Some Cow Boy

        Yea more or less

        Have to say though that I would rather have an Ogle who actually does things than a bunch of the usual clobberers on here onanising behind their modem

    1. Rob_G

      You should look up what these new-fangled media terms actually mean before throwing them about willy-nilly.

      1. Loan Some Cow Boy

        Sure that would be no craic?

        I thought the whole point of new media was to say the first oul crap that came into yer head?

        1. rotide

          New Media is a catch all term describing things like blogging, social networks and how technology relates to the 24 hour news cycle.

          Saying the first aul crap that comes into your head is what you do before hitting the submit button.

          Hope that clears it up for you.

  5. bisted

    …trouble is Brendan…while I agree with you most of the time…the unions have been compromised. They were bought by Bertie and they’ve stayed bought. Like the charities, labour party, bankers,etc., the greed of the few at the top have sullied the reputation of proud organisations whose long histories and dedicated followers have been betrayed…

  6. Anne

    RTE are for the birds. Government mouthpieces is all they are.

    We were getting more information when the IMF were called into the country over on Sky News. What’s going on in the country, you’d be thinking to yourself, is the whole country collapsing before our eyes.. you had to switch on Sky News to find out.

    Useless shower of gov. lackeys.

    1. Sheikh Yabooti

      Absolutely, Anne. It really became plain when Simon Harris was confronted in Cork by the emotional mother campaigning for access to medicinal cannabis oil to treat her kid’s 30 seizures a day; she has been stonewalled for the last year by the Dept. of Health; she was very upset and frustrated, and lit on Harris, who squirmed as the TV3 crew recorded.
      RTÉ news at 6 10 mins later? A few seconds of him gladhanding…

      1. Anne

        Yeah. I read about that. She waited for hours outside the Dail and was ignored.

        She’s campaigning on facebook.

        Dear Fine Gael/Enda Kenny

        > Unbelievable! Wrote to my local politician Peter Fitzpatrick, twice, via email in last few months. Didn’t even receive an acknowledgement of receipt
        of said emails. So insulted. Fine Gael to the core. Always was, always………….

        After a lifetime of supporting Fine Gael, the one time I ask for help, the lack of respsponse is palpable. Truly disgusted. This week I received the usual ‘sorry we missed you’ literature in my postbox with the exact same contact details for Peter Fitzpatrick that I received the last time he magically called to my titchy tiny house in the Louth countryside. Why , I ask, if he is such a willing servant, can he not even tell me that he got
        my two emails and inform me of the progress to date
        regarding this highly publicised case. I don’t think anyone in the country of Ireland is unaware of Ava ‘CBD’ Twomey!!!!
        Hello! Can you hear me???!

  7. Nigel

    It’s a gotcha. A good gotcha as gotchas go, given that the building is privately owned, not derelict, and not in the charge of an organisation to handle a massive amount of property supposedly in the interests of the Irish people, so this is the gotcha equivalent of asking someone why they don’t solve the homeless crisis by letting them sleep in their house. If only snarky rhetoric and gotchas could house the homeless we’d be laughing.

    1. Rob_G

      “… so this is the gotcha equivalent of asking someone why they don’t solve the homeless crisis by letting them sleep in their house”.

      – more like asking someone who has occupied other people’s vacant property as their proposed solution homelessness why they don’t solve the homeless crisis by letting them sleep in a spare house that they have that has been lying empty for three years.

      1. Nigel

        Because as everyone keeps pointing out, illegally occupying empty properties isn’t a solution to the crisis it’s a temporary one-off measure to bring the problem into sharp. The use of a NANA building is potent symbolism for the mess the property situation in this country.

        1. Vote Rep #1

          You’re not wrong, I’m being an idiot. Regardless, its an empty building being sat on by the owners. There are tons of them around Dublin. It is a major issue and one of the more vocal people with regards the housing/homeless issue is part of an organisation who doing do it. At the very least, it looks bad. The fact that they applied for social housing exemption looks worse.

          This has nothing to do with HSH and Apollo House. Its just Unite and Ogle.

          1. Nigel

            I just think that Unite throwing open their empty building to a few homeless would be a nice gesture, but an occupation like Apollo House is a far more dynamic action, throwing down a gauntlet to a vacillating government and that, as they say, shouldn’t be lost sight of. Otherwise I broadly agree with you.

    2. Vote Rep #1

      How is it not derelict? It is an empty building and seemingly has been empty for the last 3 years. How do you define derelict?

      1. Nigel

        Board up and in increasing poor repair? Maybe I’m making a wrong assumption in thinking the building is being maintained?

  8. Anne

    People Before Profit on this –


    RTE’s attack on Home Sweet Home was a classic piece of state propaganda.

    They ran a story which showed a vacant building owned by the UNITE union and asked why was the union supporting an occupation of Apollo House when it could have opened this building to the homeless.

    They ‘forgot’ a simple point.

    Apollo House is controlled by NAMA – effectively an agency of the Irish state. It was occupied to demand that NAMA properties should not be sold off to vulture funds but used to fulfil a social mandate – housing the homeless.

    UNITE is a civil society organisation. Irish voters or taxpayers have no decision making power over how it disposes its assets.
    Criticisms can be made about how UNITE uses its property. But these have nothing to do with the central issue – that NAMA should be used to house the homeless.

    RTE’s attack is a good example of the tactics the Irish state deploys to attack dissenters.

    It bides its time until a wave of popular support recedes. It rarely moves against protest movements while they are at their high points. It even sometime pretends a fake sympathy or ‘concern’.
    But then at an opportune moment, as Chomksy suggested, it turns up the ‘flak’ machine to discredit its opponents. It tries to paint them as hypocritical or having a ‘hidden agenda’.

    These media tactics mirror those of the Gardai. These also hold back from arrests or black propaganda while a movement is on the rise. But when there is a dip, they arrest activists or send in the Public Order Unit. They leak stories to their ‘security correspondents’ about how the movement is a ‘front’ for a ‘sinister fringe’.

    This week RTE ran its smear story against Home Sweet Home.

    This co-incided with an Irish Independent story about a ‘controversy’ over the funds raised. It was a co-ordinated ‘flak’ operation.

    Not once have these media outlets mentioned that the Environment Minister, Simon Coveney, is a landlord who has a direct interest in inflicting property prices. It is a case of different standards for state agents and their opponents.

    Which raises a simple question. How can the establishment talk about ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth politics’ when its whole propaganda machine has been built on these?

      1. Owen C

        “It was a co-ordinated ‘flak’ operation.”

        Bodger does love a good conspiracy story, in fairness

          1. Listrade

            Wow. That’s excellent?

            First, the entire left has been compared to an extreme right movement. We know that is no true. Far left showing some similarities to tactics and logical fallacies of the far right… yeah I can see that, we saw that too where far left jumped into the far right camp against HC. But not the whole left. Trust me, PBP, AA are not far left. They’re just old fashioned socialists. It’s what the left used to be before it sought, ahem, the populism of the center ground.

            So right there the article runs out of credibility.

            Second, he throws in the far left far right comparison but only goes on to denigrate the left (socialists, not far left, repeat, keep repeating. Not. The. Same.)
            Yup, the far right blames immigrants, The left blames the rich. totally the same thing, honest. He never expands on that or provides why they are comparable, just throw that in.

            Third, “‘Last time I checked, the AAA-PBP wanted to nationalise companies like Apple and Google. That’s unlikely to be easy.” Ha ha ha, yeah, those crazy anarchists. Should I provide a link to that claim? No. We’ll have a hyperlink on “Google” in the article so it looks like I’m linking to that, but instead its just the IT website search for all articles on Google. Was such a policy statement on nationalising foreign companies ever made? Dunno, can’t actually find an official policy from any party involved that says any such thing.

            Great link SF too as them as being in the same ball park, that always gets up the noses of the middle classes and IT readers. Nothing more scary than the potential SF in power.

            Too clarify:

            This is not far left. Not even remotely. It’s old fashioned socialism like we used to have (that never actually could get into power…so much for populism huh? so much for the demon working class falling for populism and false news voting in extremists).

            There is no centralised agenda or leader. That’s why there are different parties and not one.

            Populism is not a dirty word. Without populism we wouldn’t have many many things. Without people refusing to be silenced by the media, politicians, gardai, the church, we wouldn’t have finally found out as much as we did regarding child abuse. That require populism. That required bravery. They too found a cynical media willing to attack and denigrate them. I’m sure it wasn’t populism when FF jumped on the water charge bandwagon…nope, not at all, that’s different.

            The left blame the government and cronyism for societal problems, not the rich. That is not the same as making a scapegoat for hate out of different races and immigration. An economic policy (right or wrong) of wanting to see a more equitable taxation system isn’t the same as wanting the deportation of immigrants. Wanting those who were corrupt and criminal in their dealings in or with the banking industry to be held accountable is not the same as the far right movements.

          2. Listrade

            Ah, thanks. A far cry from what Leahy implies though. No mention of Apple or Google at all and in the context of securing jobs in an area at the point it looked like they’d all be lost rather than some anti-establiahment move.

        1. rotide

          The DG of RTE and DOB clearly meet every friday lunchtime and compare notes on how to properly oppress the ordinary working man using their media as a weapon.

          It’s obvious really.

          1. Listrade

            Good attempt at ridicule. Except it doesn’t have to work like that to achieve the same result. We’ve seen that from inquiries from the UK and how their media works.

            The story is the homeless crisis. Why has it suddenly turned to attacking/discrediting individuals? Why does that seem to happen just when a form of protest (usually peaceful) gains momentum and the public attention?

          2. rotide

            “The” story?

            There are plenty of stories. The homeless crisis is one, it has gotten plenty of coverage. HSH and Apollo house is another, also received lots of coverage. This is yet another story.

            This guy could have very easily said ‘nama, not private ownership’ and that would have done. Instead he’s going down the populist route and whipping up fervor with his percieved drone attacks.

            Of course it helps that his fervant ranting keeps his ego in the public eye of course.

          3. Listrade

            Fan of the aul quotation marks yourself, do you write the PBP PR too?

            And now we can add populist to the list of terms used to denigrate and undermine an issue without any attempt to explain what we mean by bit, it just sounds good and I’ve just picked it up from an article linked in a comment.

            It’s just a coincidence that populist movements that get public attraction seem end up with attacks or stories on individuals involved. And those stories seem to be leaked from the public and civil service who have been embarrassed or held to account by movement.

            It helps soothe our souls to know there’s nothing to see and that we don’t have to really take urgent action on (insert actual crisis) because your wan is just as as the others, best keep on as we are.

          4. rotide

            Yes Listrade, because the only negative stories in the press anywhere are about things that you care about.

            All press about the government is 100% positive. All press about HSH is 100% negative.

            Didn’t you used to be reasonable and realistic?

          5. Listrade

            Reasonable and realistic is in the eye of the beholder. I was never either or I’m always both, I guess it depends on which issue we’re discussing.

            I never said the only negative stories are what I care about. I never said all press about the government is positive. I never even implied that.

            It is simply that there is a pattern of leaks against individuals in order to embarrass them and make them the story. In particular when that story embarrasses or highlights the inaction or incompetence on a governmental department.

          6. Clampers Outside!

            It’s funny Listrade, when commenters read what you gone done wrote down, an’ ‘den repeat it back to you fella…. with a load of additional never said stuff thrown in, uh-huh! >_<

    1. rotide

      the “PBP” needs to “concentrate” less on “quoting” important “phrases” and start checking for “typos” and ridiculous “assertions” about Fake news in their “press releases”

        1. rotide

          When the tech behind broadsheet enters the 21st century and allows post editing, I’ll accept grammar national socialism remarks.

    2. ReproBertie

      “these have nothing to do with the central issue – that NAMA should be used to house the homeless.”
      Hold the phone there. NAMA was set up to sell off the debt ridden properties that the state had acquired through the FF bailout of their mates the banks and developers. NAMA should be used to get maximum return on those properties so as to ease the tax burden lumped on the working men and women of the state as a result of that bailout.

      There may well be a role for NAMA in finding accommodation for the homeless but that is not its primary purpose, whatever PBP may like to think.

      1. Cian

        agreed. if NAMA gives property to help the homeless it isn’t ‘free’. We (the State) are losing the sale value.
        So either NAMA sells it to the councils (and we can see the real cost of helping the homeless) or NAMA sells to investors, and gives the money to the money to the Councils to buy other (suitable) property. Then we have full transparency, we can see how NAMA fares on their economic measures.

    3. Joe Small

      The irony of a Communist party complaining about state propaganda is obviously lost of these guys.

  9. Owen C

    1. Ogle feels its not appropriate to give Unite’s members’ assets to the state (which is incorrect in itself, as no one actually asked him to do this, but simply noted that his empty building was just as much a part of the problem as Apollo House). But he does feel its appropriate to give these assets (ie resources) to homeless people. That’s perfectly fine, but he does have to admit he’s giving away members’ assets/resources in both cases, for the benefit of homeless people. They are not dissimilar, just different routes.

    2. “What they had seen was remarkable. Beautiful even”. I see Trumpism is alive and well within Unite.

    3. “–I have no assets, wealth, shares capital or great material goods”. So no ESB and/or Unite staff pension then? Is his salary from Unite probably a multiple of the average industrial wage?

      1. ScaryLady

        I suppose the point is this –

        “– I own no home or property. I am a renter
        – In 2016 I was driven out of Dublin (where I work) to rent elsewhere due to rising rents
        – I have no assets, wealth, shares capital or great material goods
        – I do my best to pay my bills, look after my family and meet my commitments”

        Putting on the poor mouth.

  10. KevM

    Fair play to Brendan Ogle and everyone involved in #HSH. Plenty of keyboard warriors having a go yesterday and today.

    This kind of none story should be expected, although i would suspect the Indo to peddle this rubbish before the state broadcaster.
    People, picking up their papers today or watching the news last night, will see this for the hack job it is.

    1. Vote Rep #1

      So basically, there can be no reporting on anything or anything associated with HSH unless it is entirely positive. if anything does appear which is not entirely positive anything or anything associated, even if it has nothing to do with HSH, it is a non-story and basically a hatchet job which should not have been published?

    2. Rob_G

      “People, picking up their papers today or watching the news last night, will see this for the hack job it is.”

      – can you point to any parts of the story that are inaccurate?

    3. ReproBertie

      You don’t think it’s at all in the public interest to point out that the union behind a demand for social housing went to the courts to ensure their own property could not be used for social housing?

  11. pluto


    Point already made – Fine Gael are landlords

    The system that is in place in Ireland means that the government will always try to lock homelessness and public issues into the private sphere.

    Simon Coveney etc. are landlords – THIS IS NOT COVERED!

  12. Kenny Plank

    RTE Montrose and the Irish Times offices across the road were empty too over the Christmas period. Especially after 6 PM.

    More mince pies Kathy, Rosita?

    1. Steve

      OMG – Fair play!!! It’s being discussed on Drivetime!!! So amazing!!

      Hopefully they will remove their request for exemption on social housing. Though It will probably affect the value that the property could achieve.

    2. rotide

      Wait , Why didn’t Ogle mention this in his press release instead of bleating on about being smeared by the very agency who then reported this?

      1. Daisy Chainsaw

        Probably because he didn’t know at the time of writing what had happened 3 years ago. Nice bit of victim blaming there! RTE knew it was a hatchet job and shot their load before UNITE had all their info to hand, yet somehow Ogle is still the bad guy?

        1. Listrade

          Plus he mentions that property is managed via UK head office, as it is for many UK private companies here. He wouldn’t necessarily be aware of or involved in how they manage the property.

        2. rotide

          How in gods name is it a hatchet job if they are the ones reporting on the fact they had offered their services?

          They reported the story yesterday, asked the union for comment, no one had any comment in relation to this.

          Today they report this piece of information, complete with comments from people who seem to know what actually went on.

          Not sure where there’s any bias here.

    3. Frilly Keane

      Thats a great spot for a Hostel/ Shelter
      Lovely Park too
      and its away from the late night yahoos and pissheads of Grafton Street, Temple Bar & Dame Street

      why did Focus turn it down
      were they trying to please the neighbors I wonder

      a bit rude of a charity to refuse such a generous donation without some explanation

      just saying

  13. RuilleBuille

    Who is this Vincent O’Hanlon who turned up from nowhere? No such group as ‘Hands Off The Homeless’ exist except in the USA.

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