Thursday 18 January 2018

Ronan's 'Nazi camp' line to be wiped from record by Banking Inquiry

Johnny Ronan
Johnny Ronan

Daniel McConnell and Niall O'Connor

The €5m Oireachtas Banking Inquiry has agreed to redact the controversial written statement it received from developer Johnny Ronan.

Mr Ronan has publicly apologised for any offence caused by his use of a phrase widely associated with Nazi concentration camps.

The committee has since received a formal request from Mr Ronan to remove the phrase from his witness statement.

"The Committee normally rejects applications to amend statements once they have been submitted. However, in this case, the phrase at issue contains no evidential value and has the potential to continue to cause offence," a spokesman for the committee said.

"In these exceptional circumstances the Joint Committee has agreed to the redaction."

The businessman sparked outrage when he signed off his witness statement to the Banking Inquiry with 'arbeit macht frei' - which translates as 'work will set you free', a phrase seen over the entrances to Nazi death camps.

The offending quote originally appeared in the 'Sunday Independent', but it wasn't until the full text was made public by the Banking Inquiry last Thursday that Mr Ronan's comments caused an outcry.

Former minister Alan Shatter led numerous calls for Mr Ronan to apologise and to explain his decision to include the words in his statement.

In a statement, Mr Ronan said: "I apologise for any offence which has been caused by quoting the phrase 'arbeit macht frei'. It was genuinely unintended.

"The reason for the quote, I believed (perhaps mistakenly), was evident from the context of my submission - Nama promised its borrowers they would be treated fairly if they co-operated, but that was not the case; co-operating businesses, including Battersea Power Station, Treasury Holdings and our China business (Forterra Trust) were destroyed, with all the consequences of that for Irish jobs and the taxpayer.

"The continuing anger I feel over what occurred is not, however, comparable with the horrors perpetrated by the Nazi regime. I recognise that I used an inappropriate analogy."

Irish Independent

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