Wednesday 28 September 2016

Shatter calls for Johnny Ronan to withdraw Auschwitz reference

Published 24/09/2015 | 14:03

Developer Johnny Ronan
Developer Johnny Ronan
Johnny Ronan

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter has called for developer Johnny Ronan to withdraw his Auschwitz reference from the record.

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His calls follow Mr Ronan's scathing attack on Nama, claiming they made decisions based on personal likes and dislikes and destroyed his business.

In a submission to the Banking Inquiry Mr Ronan says that having civil servants run what is described as the largest property company in the world is “akin to asking an accountant to fly an airplane or a butcher to perform heart surgery”.

However he says that nobody who has debts in Nama is willing to “challenge” the agency or “disclose the truth about how they operate, for fear that Nama will immediately enforce their debts”.

Mr Ronan’s company Treasury Holdings has just exited Nama after repaying €300m in debt.

Mr Ronan finished his statement with the  line ‘Arbeit macht frei’ which is a German phrase meaning “work makes (you) free”.

The slogan was commonly found in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, including Auschwitz.

Fine Gael TD Shatter said today he is 'presuming' Mr Ronan does not know the origin of the phrase.

“It is beyond my personal comprehension that the notorious and diabolically misleading ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ which greeted the tragic and doomed victims of Nazi tyranny as they entered the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, would be proclaimed by Mr John Ronan, who is an internationally known Irish businessman, in a witness statement made by him to an Irish Parliamentary Committee, the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis," Mr Shatter said in a statement issued this evening.

“It is totally bizarre that he felt the need to have the statement translated into Irish.  I can only presume that he did not know the origin of the phrase or its misuse to seductively encourage people to cooperate in their own death and destruction and in that of their loved ones. 

“I am calling on Mr Ronan to formally seek to have this phrase removed from his statement and to provide an explanation for its original inclusion. 

“I believe it is entirely inappropriate that such a phrase appear on the Irish Parliament’s website available for global viewing.  It is noteworthy that John Ronan’s statement as published has, in places, been redacted.  I do not know what consideration, if any, was given to redacting this offensive and despicable phrase which is synonymous with Nazi inhumanity.  

“I believe that the Chairman of the Committee should arrange for redaction of the phrase but that should not excuse Mr Ronan from giving an explanation for his use of it.” 

During his submission to the Banking Inquiry today, Mr Ronan outlined that his relationship with Nama started well and his staff were “instructed to engage fully with NAMA and provide whatever information and assistance it required”.

But he goes on to write that the “actions of certain individuals in Nama” caused the relationship to deteriorate significant and ultimately resulted in his business being destroyed.

“Nama by its founding legislation, was granted such wide reaching and potentially unconstitutional powers that, unless it came under constant and careful scrutiny, it was always open to abuse,” he said.

“In addition, it seemed to me, Nama was granted an endless financial budget to engage legal, public relations and other professionals to ensure that it would always have the financial muscle to win every argument.”

Concluding his statement he says: “In my experience, they made decisions based on personal likes and dis-likes, which gave little or no consideration to the ultimate return for the Irish taxpayer.”

He finishes his statement with the line ‘Arbeit macht frei’ which is a German phrase meaning “work makes (you) free”.

The slogan was commonly found in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, including Auschwitz.

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