Norris pulls out of election, but no regrets over clemency letter
Published 02/08/2011 | 16:08
The man once tipped to become Ireland's first openly gay president has pulled out of the race amid revelations he sought leniency for his ex-partner convicted of statutory rape.
David Norris' bid to be the country's head of state suffered a blow after three independent TDs who initially backed him to stand withdrew their support over the controversy.
It emerged the senator and equality campaigner had written a clemency letter to Israeli authorities 14 years ago for his former partner, who was convicted of having sex with a 15-year-old boy.
Mr Norris said he deeply regretted the controversy concerning his former partner, Ezra Nawi, but not the writing of the letter.
"The fall-out from his disgraceful behaviour has now spread to me and is in danger of contaminating others close to me both in my political and personal life," he said.
"It is essential that I act decisively now to halt this negative process.
"I do not regret supporting and seeking clemency for a friend, but I do regret giving the impression that I did not have sufficient compassion for the victim of Ezra's crime."
Mr Norris had needed support from five more TDs or Senators to secure the nomination to stand for Aras an Uachtarain.
But three backers - Independent TDs Finian McGrath, John Halligan and Thomas Pringle - withdrew their support fuelling speculation the Senator's campaign was in tatters.
Mr McGrath said the protection of children and the integrity of the President's office have got to come first.
Key campaign staff also quit over the controversy, which centres on a letter he sent in 1997 on behalf of his ex-partner who was convicted of having sex with a minor.
The Senator's campaign was embroiled in controversy earlier in the summer when comments made in 2002 about sexual activity between older and younger men and boys resurfaced.