Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter has welcomed an apology from Johnny Ronan after the property developer had quoted the Nazi phrase “Arbeit Macht Frei” in his submission to the Oireachtas Banking Committee.
Mr Ronan had come under mounting pressure to withdraw the remark and apologise, with Mr Shatter claiming the use of the “offensive and despicable phrase” had been “totally inappropriate”.
Mr Ronan said sorry for the use of the “inappropriate analogy” in the context of his dealings with Nama. “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,” Mr Ronan said. “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.”
Mr Shatter welcomed Mr Ronan’s efforts to remove the phrase. “I also welcome his apology and his recognition that his difficulties with Nama ‘are not comparable with the horrors perpetrated by the Nazi regime’,” he said.
Mr Shatter also referred to the “enormous support” for his comments on the issue, and said that he hoped the apology would “alleviate the hurt felt by those with family members who perished in the Holocaust”.
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