PRESIDENTIAL candidate David Norris suffered from Hepatitis which led to disability payments worth thousands of euro over 16 years while he was out of work as a Trinity College lecturer – even though he was a full-time Senator for the entire period, he revealed today.
Mr Norris was responding to disclosures in the Irish Independent of the disability payments, but he did not give any details of what the payment was worth.
Officially launching his presidential campaign, he said he had contracted an illness in 1994 after which Trinity College authorities proposed that he go on “permanent disability”.
In a statement issued today, the university said: “The college can confirm that Senator Norris worked as a lecturer in Trinity College from 1968 and he retired at normal retirement age in September 2009.
“In general, income protection insurers, who operate independently of the college, have rigorous medical assessment processes in place for the initial and continuing admittance of claims to their income protection schemes.”
Mr Norris said the illness was serious and while he didn’t know what it was at first he was quite unwell.
He spent some time in hospital and the illness was diagnosed as Hepatitis, non A, non B and non C, and it was probably contracted from water in Central Europe.
According to the World Health Organistation, Hepatitis E – or HEV – is the waterborne variation of the disease.
Contaminated water or food supplies have been implicated in major outbreaks and consumption of faecally contaminated drinking water has given rise to epidemics, and the ingestion of raw or uncooked shellfish has been the source of sporadic cases in endemic areas.
The risk factors for HEV infection are related to poor sanitation in many parts of the world.
Mr Norris said the illness, a swelling and inflammation of the liver, drained his energy but it did give him the opportunity to focus his time on Seanad work.
"I was medically advised it was not possible for me to undertake the stress of the very intensive lecturing and tutorial duties that I had," he said.
The 67-year-old Joycean scholar, who had worked as a tutor and lecturer at Trinity since 1968, insisted he was well enough for the office of the President.
"I am, I feel a great deal better," he said. "For three years I did not take any alcohol at all, which you're advised, with the small exception every Sunday at St Patrick's Cathedral."
Mr Norris confirmed his current pension at the moment is about €2,500 per month but he could not give an exact figure.
He also receives a Senator’s salary of €61,073.
Mr Norris also said the legal advisers in Israel and Ireland who advised him not to publish letters seeking clemency on behalf of his former partner who had been convicted of statutory rape were Michael O'Higggins SC, instructed by Beauchamp Solicitors, and a firm of solicitors in Haifa, Israel.
He said he wrote a number of letters to his partner's lawyers, giving advice and making suggestions which he felt might be helpful.
Mr Norris launched his campaign at the Dublin Writers' Museum.
He said the Irish people deserve better and called for a fair, open and transparent contest for the highest office in the land.
He said the Ireland of the "empty baubles" had passed away, and was now an empty shell like the unfinished Anglo headquarters.