Blogger who lifted the lid on rape conviction 'deluged with hate mail'
THE Irish blogger who publicised the rape conviction of Senator David Norris's former partner was deluged with "hate mail" as a result.
John Connolly (22) searched online databases and got friends to translate Hebrew reports in his hunt for information about the 1997 conviction of Ezra Yizhak Nawi for the statutory rape of a 15-year-old Palestinian boy. He said he had received hundreds of emails which were mainly "hate mail" after he put the results on his blog a week ago.
"The majority at the beginning was attack, a lot of people thought this was a conspiracy against Norris, linking Mossad (the Israeli secret service) and such. Pretty ridiculous stuff.
"And there were a few die-hard Norris supporters saying he couldn't be blamed for what had gone on, because he was an ex-partner."
However, Mr Connolly said the tone of the emails had now changed following the publication of the letters Mr Norris had sent pleading for clemency for his former partner.
"They are saying this is the first major victory of the Irish blogosphere," he said.
Mr Connolly, who describes himself as a Zionist, has said that his main problem with Mr Norris has been his "outspoken criticism of Israel". He was inspired to investigate Mr Norris's former partner after being tipped off by a person he had been good friends with back in Ireland.
"It was someone who was in the trade union movement and a lot of other similar kind of movements. I'm not sure of his or her party affiliation," he said.
But Mr Connolly said he now felt a bit betrayed because "I think now that in fact this person was sympathetic to Michael D Higgins and perhaps had the idea of getting Norris out of the race for Higgins to eat up his votes".
Mr Higgins last night emphatically denied knowledge of the revelations concerning Mr Norris.
Mr Higgins said: "I can tell you that it was certainly not anybody in my campaign or anyone associated with me in any way. I don't approve of or indulge in that kind of politics."
Mr Connolly did not have the details of the letters that Mr Norris had sent in connection with the case.
But he did obtain details of Nawi's conviction for statutory rape and started posting his information on online forums like politics.ie.
"I was trying to get the story out frantically all week on forums," he said.
Mr Connolly strongly denied that there had been any contact with the Israeli authorities before he published his information.
"When I found about the conviction, I thought it would interest everybody. I have absolutely no preference in the presidential election," he said.
Mr Connolly is entitled to vote in the presidential election, but said he did not know if he would be back from London to cast it.
He grew up in Bantry in Cork but emigrated to London after completing his law degree in Griffith College in Dublin. He recently finished working with a children's organisation in London and is now planning to study for a Masters in psychotherapy.