Saturday 22 October 2016

What's in a phrase?

Published 04/10/2015 | 02:30

Johnny Ronan apologised for the remark
Johnny Ronan apologised for the remark

When it comes to that strange breed known as Irish developers, modesty and a dash of humility aren't traits which immediately spring to mind. Instead, there are numerous other, more colourful, words which both the lawyers and basic decency preclude me from mentioning here.

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Johnny Ronan really set the bar high for future bad behaviour with his use of 'Arbeit Macht Frei' in relation to his treatment by Nama.

It was easy to understand Alan Shatter's fury at the appropriation of perhaps the most chilling phrase in any language, but he was wrong to call for it to be completely removed.

If anything, rather than being appalled and upset by Ronan's comments, people given him the response it deserved - open derision and unbridled contempt. There was something so utterly disproportionate about the man's response, and something so wildly, well, mad, in his choice of words that he simply came across as a petulant teenager.

In fact, he reminded me of Sarah Silverman's favourite phrase when she was growing up. Anytime she was asked to clean her bedroom or do a household chose, she'd squawk: "This is worse than Auschwitz!" before stomping off in a huff.

That's the thing with developers, you see. They seem to have an almost adolescent sense of entitlement and with that comes an equally demented sense of persecution.

They can redact all they like, though. Ronan has just ensured he will always be remembered as the guy who thinks financial discomfort is akin to being sent to a death camp.

And I can't think of a worse punishment than that.

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