Belfast Telegraph

Many people in east Belfast are still living in fear, says daughter of Ian Ogle

Toni Johnston-Ogle
Toni Johnston-Ogle
Toni with her father Ian Ogle
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

The daughter of murdered east Belfast community worker Ian Ogle says it is "an insult" to mark the 25th anniversary of the loyalist ceasefires when so many people in east Belfast are continuing to live in fear.

Mr Ogle's murder almost 10 months ago was the 30th killing of a Protestant in the quarter of a century since loyalism announced the end of its violent campaign on October 13, 1994.

His daughter, Toni Johnston-Ogle (27), believes Sunday's milestone is not a cause for celebration. "When people talk of a ceasefire, I would say what ceasefire? My generation wasn't supposed to see any of the violence that is still going on," Toni said yesterday.

The 45-year-old father-of-two, known as 'Big O', was beaten and stabbed 11 times by up to five men just yards from his Cluan Place home in east Belfast on January 27 this year.

The attack occurred against a background of a long-running feud.

Toni previously told this newspaper that her family endured 18 months of intimidation over accusations that her brother Ryan (23) had given an apparent "dirty look" to someone she believed to be a member of the UVF in a bar.

Two decades on from the pledge to lay down arms, Toni says little has changed in her east Belfast community where fear triumphs over respect.

"After a good family man and well-known figure like my daddy was butchered in front of his family and left to die in the street by so-called loyalists, that takes away any of the good community work that has ever been done.

"How those people portray themselves as opposed to what they actually are is completely different.

"They say they are defenders of the community but in reality they're terrorising it," she commented.

"I would portray them as wannabe criminals and gangsters - half of them are wee boys who hide behind the UVF's name.

"They were only kids when the ceasefire came around so what are they in it for?

"People just want to be left alone to live their lives so my message to them is to give up."

Toni says her father's murder, has resulted in "an eerie atmosphere" in east Belfast.

"There are still so many people in the community afraid to speak up.

"Twenty-five years on it should be a very different place but people are telling me in private that it's an uneasy place to be now.

"What happened to my daddy could have happened to anyone so no-one feels safe now. We are told that there's no threat but I certainly don't believe that myself and Ryan are safe, especially since he was the intended target.

"My brother will never get over the fact that our daddy took his last breath and died in his arms - that's the last image that Ryan has of his father."

Toni says this fear has also impacted on her mother, Vera, who now rarely leaves the house, and on the health of her grandmother, Margaret.

"My mum is absolutely lost without her partner of 30 years while my granny is not coping well at all either," she added.

"For me, I'm just taking each day as it comes and getting up in the morning because I have to struggle on.

"People keep asking me how I'm coping and I tell them that I don't know because some days I just feel like a shell of my former self.

"Because the police investigation is ongoing we haven't been able to accept what has happened or grieve properly.

"We haven't had our first Christmas without him yet and that's what we are dreading most as a family because he loved that time of year so much.

"He made Christmas for us so it will be the biggest and saddest hurdle so far."

Three men have previously appeared in court charged with Mr Ogle's murder.

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