Tuesday 20 February 2018

Developer apologises for using Nazi camp slogan

Johnny Ronan
Johnny Ronan

Niall O'Connor and Adam Cullen

The Oireachtas Banking Inquiry is expected to agree to a request by developer Johnny Ronan for the removal of a controversial Nazi slogan from his official submission.

Mr Ronan has apologised for his use of the phrase 'Arbeit Macht Frei' in his statement to the Banking Inquiry and has formally sought to amend his evidence.

The use of the phrase, which translates as "work will set you free" and hung at the entrance to many Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, sparked outrage among the Jewish community.

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who is Jewish, has welcomed Mr Ronan's apology and said he hopes it will "alleviate the hurt felt by those with family members who perished in the Holocaust".

Mr Ronan used the phrase to close his 21-page written statement to the Banking Inquiry, in which he attacked Nama over its handling of debts owed by Treasury Holdings, a company he founded with Richard Barrett in 1989. But on Saturday, the businessman apologised and said the use of the phrase was inappropriate.

Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental has said he is "delighted" that the developer has apologised but added: "He should have done it sooner.

"It is great that he has said sorry for using these dreadful words. But I must still ask why it took him three days to do so," said Mr Reichental. "It was made very clear when the news came out that he had offended many people. He should have said sorry within three hours and not left it three days."

While Banking Inquiry sources last week indicated they were "powerless" to amend the statement, Mr Ronan's formal request for the removal of the German phrase is likely to be accepted.

Fine Gael TD and inquiry member Eoghan Murphy told the Irish Independent that he expected the matter to be discussed at the next meeting of the inquiry.

"As it is not a point of substance in and out of itself, more a careless or hurtful historical reference, I wouldn't see a problem in accepting the request," he said.

Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath, said that he would support its removal from the record of the Banking Inquiry.

Irish Independent

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