Brendan Ogle Wife, Family, Career & More

Brendan Ogle’s wife, Mandy La Combre, recently made headlines for a Facebook post in which she accused the Unite trade union of sidelining her husband following his return to work after cancer treatment. La Combre’s post was intended to preempt any potential trolling from council water workers who were disgruntled over Ogle’s perceived silence on an industrial agreement they opposed.

How Did Brendan Ogle’s Return to Work Unfold?

According to La Combre, the situation at work did not improve as expected after Ogle’s recovery. She revealed that her husband often felt excluded from important activities and decisions at the union. “When he returned, I thought everything was going to be okay, and it wasn’t,” she said. La Combre described her husband’s struggle, noting how he was not being included in critical meetings and communications. She expressed disappointment, stating that one would expect better treatment from a trade union job.

What Was the Content of the Facebook Post?

In her Facebook post, which was presented as evidence at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) hearing, La Combre expressed her dismay at the union’s reaction to Ogle’s recovery. She wrote: “What I have sadly come to learn is that [Unite] don’t appear to be as happy as I am that he recovered.” She also mentioned an attempt to move Ogle to a reduced role in Dundalk and claimed he had been “frozen out of staff and activist meetings and key communications on major issues.”

What Was the Public Reaction to the Social Media Comments?

The weekend of September 11, 2022, saw a flurry of social media activity following a deal on the transfer of undertakings. Some workers criticized that they had not been balloted on the measures, leading to questions about Ogle’s absence. Comments such as “Where’s Ogle?”, “Ogle’s gone quiet,” and “Where’s Ogle now?” began to surface. La Combre feared a repeat of the trolling experienced during the Apollo House occupation by housing activists years earlier. She decided to address the situation publicly to put an end to the speculations.

How Did Unite Respond to the Allegations?

During a trade union conference in Malahide, Co Dublin, former Unite chairman Tony Woodhouse addressed the accusations, referring to the “lies that were being told” about Unite on social media. He stated: “Officers returning from sick leave are always treated in the most perfect manner.” This statement led to Ogle initiating legal proceedings against Woodhouse, claiming defamation.

What Legal Actions Has Brendan Ogle Taken?

Brendan Ogle is pursuing a complaint of discrimination related to access to employment, failure to provide reasonable accommodation, victimization, and harassment following his return to work after battling a “very aggressive” cancer in 2022. He contends that his exclusion from work activities and decisions was discriminatory and has sought legal redress.

What Were the Key Arguments in the Tribunal?

Mark Harty SC, representing Unite, challenged La Combre on her Facebook post, suggesting it was a “hand grenade” and questioning whether it was ill-advised amidst efforts to resolve Ogle’s work situation. La Combre defended her actions, asserting that there was no genuine process to resolve the issues.

What Was the Outcome of the Request to Summon Sharon Graham?

Mr. Ogle’s lawyers attempted to summon Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham as a witness, but adjudicating officer Elizabeth Spelman ruled that Graham did not possess information relevant to the inquiry. This decision marked a setback for Ogle’s legal team.

What Evidence Did Brendan Ogle’s Former Line Manager Provide?

The tribunal heard evidence from Jackie Pollock, Ogle’s former line manager, as the respondent’s case began. Pollock’s testimony is expected to provide insight into the internal dynamics at Unite and the specific circumstances surrounding Ogle’s claims.

What Are the Implications of This Case?

The case highlights significant issues regarding the treatment of employees returning to work after serious illness. It raises questions about workplace discrimination, the responsibilities of trade unions, and the impact of social media on professional disputes. The outcome could set a precedent for how similar cases are handled in the future.

What’s Next for Brendan Ogle and Unite?

As the tribunal continues, the focus will remain on the testimonies and evidence presented by both sides. Ogle’s fight for justice underscores the broader struggle many employees face when returning to work after illness, emphasizing the need for fair treatment and proper accommodations in the workplace.

This case will be closely watched by union members, legal professionals, and the public, as it not only addresses the specific grievances of one individual but also touches on the broader principles of employment rights and union responsibilities.


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