Arbeit Macht Frei

Johnny Ronan backtracks: Nama is 'not comparable to Nazi horrors'

The property developer was heavily criticised after using a Nazi slogan in his submission to the banking inquiry.

7/9/2010. Opening of the Convention Centre Dublin

Updated: 10.43am

JOHNNY RONAN HAS apologised for using a Nazi slogan in his written submission to the banking inquiry.

The property developer was heavily criticised after signing off his submission with ‘Arbeit macht frei’ – translating as ‘Work sets you free’. It infamously hung over the entrance to Auschwitz and other concentration camps.

In a statement Ronan said:

“I apologise for any offence which has been caused by quoting the phrase ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ 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.”

In my view Nama operated outside the law with no regard for people’s legal or constitutional rights. 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.

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who is Jewish, had led calls for the remark to be withdrawn. He said it was “beyond my personal comprehension that the notorious and diabolically misleading” statement would be used by an “internationally known Irish businessman”.

This morning, Shatter released a statement welcoming Ronan’s apology and “his recognition that his difficulties with NAMA are not comparable with the horrors perpetrated by the Nazi regime”.

“I appreciate the enormous support I have received in recent days from people both at home and abroad for my comments on this important issue. I hope the statement now circulated by Mr Ronan will alleviate the hurt felt by those with family members who perished in the Holocaust,” Shatter said.

Background: Johnny Ronan use of notorious Nazi work slogan ‘beyond comprehension’: Shatter

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