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Wednesday 26 July 2017

Like a Greek tragedy, fall from grace was dramatic

David Norris pictured with the TDs who committed to his campaign. The withdrawal of support from TDs Finian
McGrath (fifth from left), Thomas Pringle (seventh from left) and John Halligan (eighth from left) yesterday did
considerable damage to his campaign hopes
David Norris pictured with the TDs who committed to his campaign. The withdrawal of support from TDs Finian McGrath (fifth from left), Thomas Pringle (seventh from left) and John Halligan (eighth from left) yesterday did considerable damage to his campaign hopes

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

THE dramatic demise of David Norris's presidential ambitions bore all the hallmarks of one of the Greek tragedies the flamboyant senator was so fond of quoting.

And in its final days Senator Norris's team was so decimated that campaign work had to be outsourced.

At one stage, he had 300 volunteers but many of his key staff quit in response to his failure to tell them about his letter seeking clemency for his ex-partner Ezra Yizhak Nawi.

Yesterday he had to get a private company to provide the microphone and speaker facilities for the news conference outside his home.

And it was the public relations firm Paul Allen and Associates which distributed copies of his statement -- rather than campaign director of communications Jane Cregan, who had resigned.

There was only a handful of supporters present for his final campaign act -- including one woman who had tears in her eyes and described herself as a "loyal supporter".

Shock

Mr Norris admitted some of his campaign team felt "shock and hurt and betrayal" because they could not understand why he had not warned them about the letters in advance.

That was despite a sit-down session two months ago when controversial comments he made about the age of consent and incest in a 2002 Magill interview were re-printed.

"We did look and it simply never arose," Mr Norris said yesterday.

Mr Norris used the internet to recruit enthusiastic volunteers for his campaign team. But he failed to attract people with significant experience of fighting political battles.

"They weren't used to the ground hurling of politics," said one source who had extensive dealings with the campaign.

There were signs of this in Mr Norris's failed attempts to get four local authorities to back his campaign.

He did turn up to make speeches to the local authorities -- but he did not do the individual "meet and greet" routine with local councillors beforehand to get their support.

"You can't just turn up as a 'poshie' from Dublin and look for their support," the source said.

Presidential rivals like Sean Gallagher and Mary Davis did not make the same mistake -- and secured the backing of councils ahead of him.

But Mr Norris's campaign faced its biggest test last weekend -- and the slew of resignations of key personnel made it even harder to cope.

Mr Norris himself admitted that he was "out of circulation" during the crisis so even those who stayed found it hard to get in touch with him. But he was strong in his praise for his campaign team yesterday: "I would like to say that I respect and understand the decisions taken by the team and this has not in any way altered my appreciation for their contribution to the campaign."

Irish Independent

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