Ian Ogle’s ‘unparalleled bravery’ recalled at Belfast funeral

Mourners told not to seek revenge but to ensure justice must be ‘relentlessly pursued’

The "unparalleled bravery" and selflessness of Ian Ogle was recalled in Belfast on Monday as more than 1,000 people attended the loyalist community worker's funeral.

The service took place as the Police Service of Northern Ireland arrested two men – aged 37 and 40 – on suspicion of his murder.

Mr Ogle died after being stabbed 11 times in what police described as a "barbaric" attack by several men at Cluan Place in east Belfast on the night of January 27th. The Ogle family has blamed members of the Ulster Volunteer Force in east Belfast for the killing.

The chief mourners at the funeral were Mr Ogle’s wife, Vera, son Ryan and daughter Toni.

Mr Ogle, who was 45, and his son had previously been ordered to report “by appointment” for a so-called punishment beating or shooting, but they refused. The family said they had been living in fear for 18 months.

Mr Ogle was a well-known loyalist figure and previously was a member of the Ulster People’s Forum, which protested against a decision to limit the days the British Union flag flew over Belfast City Hall.

At the funeral service at Covenant Love Church on the Albertbridge Road in east Belfast, Pastor Kevin Sambrook told mourners that shortly before the attack he had been talking to and praying with Mr Ogle.

Turned to God

He said Mr Ogle had moved away from his past and had turned to God towards the end of his life.

“We stood and prayed together for a while before he thanked me and told me he prayed the Lord’s Prayer every day and I knew that,” said Pastor Sambrook.

The pastor said he and Ryan were also with Mr Ogle after he was stabbed. The pastor said Mr Ogle had been “courageous, fearless and utterly selfless” in standing up for his family.

“Ian met his end with unparalleled bravery and died protecting those he believed to be danger without a second thought for his own safety,” he said.

“Ian willingly gave his life for others while others willingly took it from him. What I witnessed that night will stay with me for the rest of my life but my strongest and most abiding memory will be not of Ian’s murderers, but rather this brave and selfless man displaying supreme courage with a heart of a lion meeting lethal danger head on knowing he never stood a chance, but content to fulfil an obligation to protect others. I saw a man that night with dignity.”

The pastor said there must be no revenge for the murder but that justice must be “relentlessly pursued and the full weight of the law brought to bear upon the guilty”.

The east Belfast UVF said it “wholeheartedly condemned” the murder and that “whoever did it did not do it in the name of loyalism or the UVF”.

Loyalist sources said that those involved had been “stood down” by the UVF and that some of those responsible had gone on the run.

So far police have arrested 11 people – nine men and two women – in connection with the murder with the two men arrested on Monday still in custody.

On Sunday, a week after the murder, police revisited the murder scene to seek assistance from the public.

Officers handed out leaflets to pedestrians in the Cluan Place, Albertbridge Road and Templemore Avenue areas, and placed posters on lamp posts to encourage eye witnesses to come forward and speak to detectives.