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Fresh scandal hits Norris campaign as key aides resign

DAVID Norris' presidential bid is now on the brink of collapse.



It emerged today that the senator's former partner was convicted of having sex with an underage boy.

In a further blow, two of Norris' key campaign officials have resigned.

The news that Jane Cregan, Director of Communications and Derek Murphy, Director of Elections, had resigned came as claims emerged about an Israeli court case involving Ezra Yizhak Nawi.

Senator Norris' former partner was found guilty of having sex with a 15-year-old Palestinian youth in 1992.

Mr Norris and his partner later split, but have remained friends and are reported to be in frequent phone contact.

Neither the senator nor his two former campaign officials could be contacted for comment today.

In recent years, Mr Nawi has clashed with the Israeli authorities in relation to his political activities on behalf of Palestinians.

Mr Norris spoke out in support of Nawi in the Seanad two years ago when the pro-Palestinian activist was jailed for a month for assaulting an Israeli policeman.

The senator could not be contacted at his home on North Great Georges Street in Dublin city centre today.

His campaign was embroiled in controversy earlier in the summer when comments he made about sexual activity between older and younger men and boys in Magill magazine in January, 2002, resurfaced.

When media called to his home last night, Mr Norris left and went into the house next door, passing reporters and refusing to comment.



Proud

There was no response when the Herald called to the property today.

It was not clear today if Mr Norris was aware of his ex-partner's conviction for statutory rape.

In the notes to his one-man show Do You Hear What I'm Seeing? in Clontarf Castle in 2007, Mr Norris referred to the work Mr Nawi was doing for human rights in Palestine.

"I am very proud that my former partner and close friend Ezra Yizhak Nawi places his life in jeopardy on a routine basis to help those he considers his neighbours in Israel/Palestine.

"Ezra is an Israeli-born Jew of Middle Eastern origin and as a 'Good Samaritan' his neighbours in this case are the downtrodden Palestinian subsistence farmers in the villages around south Hebron."

When the Magill magazine comments resurfaced earlier this year, the senator said then that the re-emergence of the controversy was a calculated smear designed to damage his presidential campaign.

He said the comments about paedophilia made in the interview had been taken out of context.

Mr Norris, a Joycean scholar, became well known in Ireland for his support of human rights issues, particularly gay rights.

Despite topping the opinion polls to date, Mr Norris has struggled to find a nomination for the presidential election.

To get on the ticket, he needs to get a nomination from 20 TDs and senators or four councils. So far, he has only secured a nomination from one local authority and his campaign team seems to have virtually given up on securing a place via that route.

After four months of campaigning, some 15 Oireachtas members have promised to sign his nomination papers.



Boost

Mr Norris has secured the support of Independent TDs Finian McGrath, Maureen O'Sullivan, Catherine Murphy, Mick Wallace, Stephen Donnelly, Thomas Pringle, John Halligan and Luke 'Ming' Flanagan.

He also has the support of senators John Crown, Sean Barrett, Mary Ann O'Brien, and Marie Louise O'Donnell.

Last week, his campaign received a boost, with senators Katherine Zappone and Fiach MacConghail saying that they would nominate him though they would be voting for Michael D Higgins.

"We live in a democracy and as such I believe that Senator Norris has right to be in the race for the Irish Presidency," Ms Zappone said.

hnews@herald.ie


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