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Saturday 21 April 2018

Passionate champion of rights and writers

SENATOR David Norris has always been hailed as one of the few reasons why the Seanad should not be abolished.

His witty and passionate speeches have been a feature of the Upper House -- as well as his championing of causes ranging from gay rights to Tibetan monks.

He was born in the Belgian Congo, where his father was an engineer. He was still only a child when his father died and he returned to live with his mother in Dublin.

He became a lecturer in Trinity College Dublin and subsequently was elected to the Seanad in 1987 as one of the three TCD senators.

The following year, he achieved a breakthrough for gay rights when the European Court of Human Rights upheld his challenge to the Irish law which made homosexuality a criminal offence. The law was finally abolished in 1993.

But Mr Norris actually voted against the bill to allow for civil partnerships for gay and lesbian couples last year -- on the grounds that it did not do enough for the children of same-sex couples.

He is well known for his passion for the works of James Joyce and for participating in the annual Bloomsday celebrations. He set up a trust which turned a decaying Georgian building on North Great George's Street in Dublin into the James Joyce Centre.

Irish Independent

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