Banking inquiry says it has no powers to redact Johnny Ronan statement

Alan Shatter describes phrase as ‘offensive and despicable’

Johnny Ronan:  his statement  to the poireachtas banking inquiry will stand unless he or his legal representatives  ask  for it to be changed. Photograph: Collins

Johnny Ronan: his statement to the poireachtas banking inquiry will stand unless he or his legal representatives ask for it to be changed. Photograph: Collins

 

The Oireachtas banking inquiry has indicated that it has no powers to compel developer Johnny Ronan to remove a reference to second World War concentration camps from his written statement to the inquiry.

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter has written to the committee about a phrase from the Nazi period which he describes as “offensive and despicable”.

At the end of his statement, Mr Ronan wrote: “ ‘Arbeit macht frei’, nó i Gaeilge ‘Tugann obair saoirse’.” Translated into English as “work sets you free”, it was written over the entrance to concentration camps, where millions of Jews died.

In a statement, the committee said it examined all statements to ensure they complied with legal constraints under the Acts setting up such inquiries.

“The committee does not redact statements or alter the language used by witnesses in their statements unless there is a compelling legal reason to do so. This does not mean that the committee endorses or approves in any way of the views or language used by any individual witness in their statement,” the statement said.

It means that the statement will stand unless Mr Ronan, or his legal representatives, request for it to be changed.

The Jewish Representative Council of Ireland has said it is greatly disquieted.

“That such a discredited phrase would be used and then translated into Irish is beyond comprehension,” Maurice Cohen, chairman of the council, said. “We can only surmise that it was inserted into the document in complete ignorance of its usage and its connotations that are associated with the darkest period in European history.”