The daughter of murdered community worker Ian Ogle received a standing ovation in east Belfast on the anniversary of her father’s death as she denounced paramilitarism.
Around 160 people attended a memorial at the East Belfast Network Centre where Toni Johnston-Ogle and others paid tributes and spoke out against paramilitary intimidation.
A private vigil was held afterwards for family and friends in Cluan Place to mark the exact place and time of his death.
"As long as I'm still breathing, Ian Ogle will never be dead." A standing ovation for Toni Johnston-Ogle, speaking out against paramilitary intimidation in east Belfast on the anniversary of her father's murder. @BelTel pic.twitter.com/XPj0gbnWB4— Allan Preston (@AllanPreston) January 27, 2020
The 45-year-old father of two, known as ‘Big O’, was beaten and stabbed 11 times in the back by up to five men close to the door of his Cluan Place home on January 27 last year.
The east Belfast UVF has previously admitted its members were involved in the killing but said his death was not sanctioned at a leadership level.
Addressing the crowd, Ms Johnston-Ogle spoke defiantly about the ongoing threats facing her family.
“Everyone knows that our family is still being intimidated. Especially me and my brother,” she said.
“It’s been said that we are a stain on the loyalist community. We’ve been called touts and apparently my daddy would be turning in his grave at me.
“But let me leave you all with this. If people in this community bury their heads in the sand about what happened to my daddy last year, then I don’t want to be part of that community.”
There was a huge applause as she added: “See if standing up for justice for my murdered father means I’m a tout, then I’m a tout.
“As for my daddy turning in his grave at me, well I am my daddy.
“I am in every way like him, that’s why I’m standing here now and that’s why I’m going to continue to fight.
“Because as long as I’m still breathing, Ian Ogle will never be dead.”
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph before the event, she thanked those who were willing to support the family in public.
“It means a lot to have everyone here because I know the community is afraid again,” she said.
“Basically my daddy was a big character within the community, he loved east Belfast so I just think what a better tribute than to bring the community together and discuss the issues that are plaguing them.”
Mr Ogle’s mother Margaret Elliott and sister Christina McMaster said they were moved by the support.
“We shouldn’t be here. He should be with us,” his mother said.
“Hopefully this will show people that he was here for the community and they will be here for us.”
She added she was “disgusted” at recent threats against the family made with graffiti.
“I think we’re grieving enough a year on without giving us any more,” she said.
Ms McMaster said: “I think if we all stand together the courage will come and more people will come to speak out and stop all this.”
Rev Mervyn Gibson said there was no surprise at the large turnout.
“People were always going to come out, there’s great support for the Ogle family and against criminality in the area,” he said,
“Importantly they want to see east Belfast become a better place.
“I think everyone would like to see any criminal gangs disarmed. They want to see people behind bars who are selling drugs to our kids, they want to see loan sharks or anyone carrying out nefarious activities dealt with by the police.”
DUP MP for East Belfast Gavin Robinson said the community needed to see results in the fight against paramilitaries.
“I think there’s a very strong determination in the room for all of those present who want to turn tragedy into something, to say what has gone before shouldn’t have happened,” he said.
“This community is united in its determination to say we can move forward. They need to see progress in the justice that they rightly seek. It’s important that the strength and determination that the family has shown, that they receive support and strength from the community in doing so.”
Mr Robinson also praised the Ogle family for speaking out after continued threats.
“They are going through periods of difficulty, at times pressure and at times threats because they are saying the right things and speaking truth to power in this community.
“So they need our support and I hope they get it this evening.”
Asked if there had been a shift in the culture of fear in east Belfast, he said: “It almost becomes chicken and egg. People need to give information but they also need to see a response from statutory agencies when they give it.
“So if they’re sharing information with the police they need to see the police proactively responding with positivity and making sure they are doing what needs to be done to tackle crime in society.”
Three men accused of Mr Ogle’s murder are currently on bail: Glenn Rainey (33), Jonny Brown (33) and Mark Sewell (40).
CCTV footage allegedly links the accused, but all three deny any involvement.