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Norris claims 'paedophilia' storm is a bid to derail his campaign

An emotional David Norris today strongly refuted allegations contained in a ten year old article which were brought to the surface yesterday on Joe Duffy’s Liveline programme.

Senator Norris, who is currently seeking a nomination as a Presidential candidate, made it clear in an RTE interview on Pat Kenny that he believes this is an attempt to derail his candidature.

An article published in Magill Magazine, in which he was quoted as saying there was “something to be said” for “classic paedophilia”, took his comments out of context, he said and described the renewed controversy over the 2002 interview as a “smear” on his election campaign.

The Magill article from January 2002, written by Helen Lucy Burke, quoted Norris as saying there was “complete and utter hysteria” on the topic of paedophilia, and “confusion between homosexuality and paedophilia on the one hand, and between paedophilia and pederasty on the other”.

Burke’s article also said Norris “did not appear to endorse any minimum age or endure any protest that a child was not capable of informed consent”, quoting him as saying: “The law in this sphere should take in to account consent rather than age.”

Speaking this morning, Norris described the resurfacing of the article as part of a “smear” and said he hoped those who were circulating the “inaccurate, misleading misquotation” were ashamed of themselves.

"I answered all the questions - on radio and in every newspaper ..... and now, Pat, that Magill article is being sent to all the councillors in an attempt to prevent me from getting the nomination."

Senator Norris said Ms Burke had continually turned her tape recorder on and off during their interview and when she had called him about the article she had read only two paragraphs to him. He had asked her to make some corrections - which she did not make before the article was published.

Ms Burke, contacted the Pat Kenny show this morning contested Norris's claim, saying she had amended her draft article to allow for his suggestions before it was published in 2002.

Norris said the article had not had an electoral impact on him before now, and wondered why the article was resurfacing now when he was seeking nomination for the presidency.

He also added that he “abhorred” any sexual contact with children, and opposed paedophilia and incest in all its forms.

Mr Norris requested that Ms Burke resurrect the tapes and said it will be very clear that the interview was stopped and started and that his comments had been tampered with.

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Speaking to Joe Duffy yesterday, Ms Burke said she had expected Mr Norris to launch a libel action against the piece if he felt he was misrepresented in it, but Mr Norris had evidently not done so.

Mr Norris said today that he hopes he will not have to resort to the legal route but he feels so strongly about this that he may now have to go down this route.

While Ms Burke said she still retained a tape with the original recording of her interview, she was not sure if the recording was still audible – saying it may have incurred water damage when her ceiling sprang a leak two years ago.

“I have no intention of attacking Ms Burke personally but I have no idea why she has brought this up now,” Mr Norris said this morning. “I don’t know what her motivations are.”

Mr Norris's original comments in 2001 were: "I haven't the slightest interest in children, or in people who are considerably younger than me.

"I cannot understand how anybody could find children of either sex in the slightest bit attractive sexually. . . but in terms of classic paedophilia, as practised by the Greeks, for example, where it is an older man introducing a younger man to adult life, there can be something said for it. Now, again, this is not something that appeals to me.

"Although when I was younger I would have greatly relished the prospect of an older, attractive, mature man taking me under his wing, lovingly introducing me to sexual realities, treating me with affection, teaching me about life."

The senator issued a statement in response to criticism of his candidacy claiming his 2001 comments about sexuality were misleading.

"The presentation of references to sexuality in the article attributed to me were misleading in that they do not convey the context in which they were made," he said.

Notably, the senator does not claim he was misquoted.

The original controversy arose in 2001 from a magazine interview where Mr Norris said he "engaged an academic discussion about classical Greece and sexual activity in a historical context".

"It was a hypothetical, intellectual conversation which should not have been seen as a considered representation of my views on some of the issues discussed over dinner," he said in the statement.

"People should judge me on my record and actions as a public servant, over the last 35 years and on the causes and campaigns, for which I have fought, and not on an academic conversation with a journalist over dinner. I did not ever and would not approve of the finished article as it appeared," he said.

The senator is seeking a nomination from 20 TDs and senators or the backing of four city and county councils.

In a fortnight's time, he will address three councils on one day, which he has described as 'Super Monday'.

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