GARDAÍ are treating as a potential incitement to hatred the erection of a sign carrying a notorious Nazi concentration camp motto over a Cork jobs centre.
The slogan - 'Jobpath Macht Frei' - was stuck in large letters on a glass awning above the entrance to the Hannover Street social welfare office in Cork.
It is believed the sign, which was removed immediately staff became aware of it, was placed above the entrance by an individual sometime on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.
It was erected from the outside - and gardaí are now examining CCTV security camera footage from Hannover Street and nearby Washington Street to determine if those responsible were caught in footage.
The Department of Social Protection lodged a formal complaint about the incident to gardaí.
Now, Cork gardaí confirmed they are investigating it as a potential incident of incitement to hatred.
"We are are appealing for information in relation to a potential incitement of hatred incident at a Social Welfare Office on Hannover Street, Cork the was reported to Gardaí on October 16," a garda spokesperson said.
"The incident was reported after a member of the public noticed an offensive sticker that was placed at the entrance to the building."
"Anyone with information is asked to contact Anglesea Street Garda Station on (021) 452 200, the Garda Confidential Line on (1800) 666-111, any Garda Station or the Garda National Diversity & Integration Unit (01) 6663150 or firstname.lastname@example.org."
A senior garda source said they do not believe the incident is linked to any right wing or neo-Nazi group.
One theory being considered is that it was a sick prank that escalated out of control.
Gardaí said they are treating the incident as "extremely serious" and warned that they adopt a significant focus on the identification, reporting and investigation of potential hate crimes.
No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.
The phrase 'Arbeit Macht Frei' or 'work sets you free' became notorious after the slogan was erected over the entrance to notorious Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz.
It was designed to lull groups being sent into the death camps into believing if they worked hard they could eventually be released.
Millions died during World War II in Nazi death camps across Germany and, particularly, Poland where most were located.
Jobpath is a social welfare scheme to help unemployed people get back to work. One man, whose wife is Polish, told Independent.ie that they were “absolutely horrified” by the sign.
“On the behalf of Polish community. I would like to say that people are outraged and will escalate this to find out who put it there," he said.
“I feel ashamed that in our country someone is able to come up with idea like this."
The Irish Polish Society condemned the signage on Facebook and confirmed that it has now been removed.
“Polish men asked the centre manager for action and the improper sticker disappeared in 20 minutes. Big thanks to all involved. We can't be indifferent to inhuman behavior,” a spokesperson said.
The official Auschwitz Memorial account on Twitter described the sign as “painful to see”.