Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

New controversy hits David Norris bid to be Irish president

Senator David Norris

The bid by David Norris to become the next Irish president was in turmoil last night after a fresh controversy hit his campaign

Senator Norris is embroiled in fresh controversy after it was revealed he wrote a clemency letter 14 years ago for his former partner who was convicted of having sex with a 15-year-old boy.

He has already been embroiled in a furore over comments he made surrounding paedophilia in an interview given more than a decade ago.

An independent TD who has pledged support for his bid to stand for the Aras claimed he is the victim of a targeted, "nasty" campaign.

Maureen O'Sullivan said the senator should have the opportunity to stand in the election and be judged by the public.

"I hope that they read the whole article and they read all of the letters through, that they will see that he was not trying to change the condition for his former partner," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"He was looking at mitigating circumstances regarding the sentence."

The latest controversy surrounds a letter, written on Seanad notepaper, sent by Mr Norris to Israeli authorities pleading for clemency for his former partner.

The revelations have led to resignations within Mr Norris' campaign team.

Mr Norris said he believed the revelations would cause serious trouble to his campaign but he remained committed to securing the nomination to stand for the presidency and become the first openly gay president in Europe.

He needs the support of four city or county councils or 20 TDs or senators. Fifteen had pledged support for his campaign prior to the revelation.

But independent TD John Halligan said he would be consulting with his advisors.

"I think David Norris is a very good man, and I'm disappointed but I'm troubled by what has happened," Mr Halligan said.

"He has been targeted in a particularly nasty way, right from the beginning," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"Those early opinion polls showed him very far ahead ... I've no doubt that there's some campaign against him."

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