Johnny Ronan apologises for using Nazi slogan at Bank Inquiry
High-profile property developer Johnny Ronan has publicly apologised for any offence caused by his use of a German phrase widely associated with Nazi concentration camps.
This weekend, in a statement to the Sunday Independent, Mr Ronan said: "I apologise for any offence which has been caused by quoting the phrase 'Arbeit Macht Frei' (work will set you free) at the end of my submission to the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry. 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 that they would be treated fairly if they co-operated, but that unfortunately 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." He added: "The significance of this and 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 in my submission and have written to the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry to request the offending phrase be removed."
The offending quote originally appeared in this newspaper last weekend. However, it wasn't until the full text became public that Mr Ronan's comments caused outcry, including from former Justice Minister Alan Shatter. Meanwhile, Mr Ronan is also seeking a full and public inquiry into the operations of Nama. His attack is the latest in a series of criticisms by developers who have had their loans managed by the agency.