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Norris's bid reaches Endgame

And so the Endgame. For those familiar with the short Samuel Beckett play -- and David Norris quoted him furiously here -- almost nothing happens.

But unlike Beckett's one-act Endgame, this was a tale of many parts, with plenty of twists, turns and high drama.

Norris chose the steps of his magnificent North Great George's Street pile to play out the final act of his own presidential plot.

Even the senator's entrance into his finale caught the audience unaware, as he alighted from a car at the front of the house at bang on 3pm, instead of walking out to meet his public through the green front door.

Anyone familiar with David Norris knows him to be a bouncy, gregarious individual.

But this was a shadow of the man, as he shuffled uneasily, shoulders hunched with an almost waxy visage as he made his way through the media and on to the doorstep podium to announce his own endgame.


Members of the media, supporters and a handful of members of the public eagerly awaited the inevitable, which had been announced in this newspaper hours before.

There was a sense of anticipation from those awaiting the most recognisable voice in the country, over the past few months.

Arriving at 3pm as promised, a solemn but composed Mr Norris stood in front of the door, which was shrouded in ivy.

"Don't let the media bully you, David," shouted one supporter, "stay in the race," she said, as Mr Norris made his way through the clicks and the flashes.

Despite the facade of sombre sobriety as soon as he spoke the tone was as colourful and pitched as normal.

He explained why he wrote a letter to the Israeli government in 1997, asking for mercy for his former lover who was convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy.

"I deeply regret the most recent of all the controversies concerning my former partner of 25 years ago, Ezra Nawi," said the scholarly Norris. "The fallout from his disgraceful behaviour has now spread to me and is in danger of contaminating others close to me both in my political and personal life.

"It is essential that I act decisively now to halt this negative process. I do not regret supporting and seeking clemency for a friend, but I do regret giving the impression that I did not have sufficient compassion for the victim of Ezra's crime.".

Despite Norris's popularity in recent opinion polls, the questions over his lack of judgment proved too damaging to his campaign.

His team was the envy of many in political life -- a group of youthful, enthusiastic and idealistic volunteers who had embraced the campaign to get Mr Norris in to the Aras. So infectious was their passion for the cause that many compared them to President Barack Obama's supporters.

And for some weeks now, it appeared their dreams would come to fruition. However, before the weekend, a raft of his volunteers resigned as the allegations emerged.

Next to follow were a number of Mr Norris's Oireachtas supporters and senior campaign figures.

Mr Norris has paid the price as his presidential bid lay in tatters -- a fact he was only too aware of yesterday with his announcement that he was pulling out of the race.

"As a senator I have always been an active and vibrant voice for those vulnerable and marginalised in society. So it is very sad that in trying to help a person I loved dearly I made a human error," announced the bewildered senator, as friends and family members, young and old, looked on through the front windows of Number 18.

In a role that would have made history, David Norris could have been the first openly gay president anywhere in the world.


But, despite a desire among the ordinary Irish public to shake his hand, critics seemed hell bent on uprooting all his misjudgments and "human errors" during his hugely successful career campaigning for gay rights.

"So here I am today outside my home where all my great journeys have begun to announce the end of my presidential campaign," said Mr Norris added. "I have demonstrated that it is now possible for a gay person to be seen as a viable candidate for the highest office in the land

"As I came across the Beckett Bridge today into my mind came his words about humanity and frailty: 'Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better'."

ANALYSIS: Pages 12&13