Wednesday 18 September 2019

Norris is the victim of a targeted, "nasty" campaign

Colm Kelpie, Press Association

An independent TD who has pledged support for David Norris' bid to stand for the Aras claimed he is the victim of a targeted, "nasty" campaign.

Senator Norris is embroiled in fresh controversy after it was revealed he wrote a clemency letter 14 years ago for his former partner who was convicted of having sex with a 15-year-old boy.

Maureen O'Sullivan said the senator should have the opportunity to stand in the election and be judged by the public.

"I hope that they read the whole article and they read all of the letters through, that they will see that he was not trying to change the condition for his former partner," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"He was looking at mitigating circumstances regarding the sentence."

The latest controversy surrounds a letter, written on Seanad notepaper, sent by Mr Norris to Israeli authorities pleading for clemency for his former partner.

The revelations have led to resignations within Mr Norris' campaign team.

The letter was provided by Mr Norris to the Sunday Independent.

The senator told the paper he believed the revelations would cause serious trouble to his campaign but he remained committed to securing the nomination to stand for the Presidency.

Mr Norris needs the support of four city or county councils or 20 TDs or senators.

Some 15 Oireachtas members had pledged support for his campaign prior to the revelation.

But independent TD John Halligan said he would be consulting with his advisors.

"I'm meeting my campaign over the next couple of days and I'll make a decision then," Mr Halligan said.

"I think David Norris is a very good man, and I'm disappointed but I'm troubled by what has happened."

Mr Halligan said he believed Mr Norris was trying to show compassion and was not trying to get his former partner off.

Mr Norris' 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.

Ms O'Sullivan said she believed the senator was being targeted.

"He has been targeted in a particularly nasty way, right from the beginning," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"Those early opinion polls showed him very far ahead, and the way in which his words were taken out of context, and the way they were sensationalised in those articles earlier on so I've no doubt that there's some campaign against him."

Ms O'Sullivan said Mr Norris believed his campaign was damaged but he wanted to carry on.

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