Senator refuses to say how much he got on disability
Published 06/10/2011 | 05:00
INDEPENDENT presidential candidate David Norris yesterday refused to say how much he received in disability payments while also working as a member of the Seanad.
The Irish Independent had earlier revealed that the senator received a pay-out for 16 years while out of work from Trinity College -- even though he was a "full-time" senator for the entire period. But Mr Norris would not say exactly how much he received between 1994 and 2010.
He confirmed that he was being paid disability because he had hepatitis, but did not say what type of hepatitis it was.
The senator directed queries about how much he was paid to his former employers at Trinity, where he served as a lecturer and tutor.
But Trinity could not provide any figures either.
Although Mr Norris had earlier said that the disability payment was around a quarter of his salary, sources yesterday said a payment of 75pc was the norm for major employers, such as universities.
"I think it would be dishonest of me to pretend that I could give you an exact figure," Mr Norris said at his campaign launch. "If you wish to find it out, you have my permission."
He again insisted that he was fit enough to be President.
"I am, I feel a great deal better," he added. Asked if he had a credibility issue, he replied: "Well, I think that's for the people of Ireland to decide."
The results of the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll today show that Mr Norris' popularity has plummeted to just 11pc -- way behind the frontrunner Michael D Higgins on 23pc.
Mr Norris said at his campaign launch it was a different time when he started taking the disability payment and he might not take it in the current economic crisis.
"Those were different times. That's 1994. I think in the present circumstances I would have possibly had some hesitations.
"In 1994 I was abroad and I contracted an illness," he said. "It turned out that what I had was hepatitis -- non-A, non-B and non-C. According to extensive medical examination of my activities, it was from water and it was in Central Europe."
He said the situation continued for about a year and at that point the university told him his situation was "untenable" and advised that he go on permanent disability.
A lecturer was hired as his replacement and Mr Norris was compelled not to lecture elsewhere under the agreement, he said.
In a statement, Trinity College said data-protection legislation prevented it from disclosing personal information in respect of staff or former staff.
"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," it said.
"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."