SENATOR David Norris is fighting cancer.
The independent Seanad member said he is undergoing medical treatment at a private Dublin hospital for a serious cancer condition.
He has vowed to return to work within days and said he is continuing to enjoy life.
Mr Norris (68), who made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency two years ago, said he believes he contracted cancer from an incident of viral hepatitis, which he suffered from unsafe drinking water in eastern Europe.
In a statement released this morning, Mr Norris confirmed his ongoing health battle.
"My office has been contacted in recent days by sections of the press making inquiries concerning my state of health and general medical condition.
"The following statement will I hope provide an adequate response.
"I am currently undergoing medical management for a serious cancer condition.
"I am extremely grateful for the superb treatment I have received from the team of consultants at St Vincent's Private Hospital, as well as the nursing and general hospital staff," he said.
"The cancer appears to be related to the initial incidence of viral hepatitis which I contracted from tainted drinking water while I was on unpaid Government business in eastern Europe in 1994.
"I have no difficulty in making this information public in response to press queries, because I believe that there should be no stigma attaching to cancer as a disease.
"I continue to enjoy life and am looking forward to returning to my duties in Seanad Eireann over the next few days," he said.
Earlier this month, in an interview on RTE Radio, Senator Norris revealed he was undergoing tests, but that he had "no intention of croaking it".
Mr Norris was first elected to the Seanad as an independent candidate in 1987.
He is a longstanding campaigner for gay rights in Ireland and abroad.
An enthusiast of work by James Joyce, he has had several works published on Ulysses and is also a supporter of retaining and restoring Dublin's Georgian heritage.
Two years ago, Mr Norris said that, if elected president, he would bring austerity to the Aras and give up some of the €250,000 salary.
He said he would not be a gay president, but as a president who happens to be gay.
Ultimately, Labour candidate Michael D Higgins won the presidential election and Mr Norris returned to his work as a senator.