| 6.8°C Dublin

Why Norris is back in the race

DAVID Norris is back in the presidential race but it's unclear if he'll be on the ballot paper.

The embattled senator came out fighting on The Late Late Show last night, but he faces an uphill battle to get the 20 nominations he needs.

Norris's campaign team have been privately contacting Oireachtas members all week, in a bid to rustle up support for the senator.

He told host Ryan Tubridy that he intends to "make the greatest comeback in Irish political history".

"I'm not a great fan of boxing but I've seen situations where one of the boxers was getting flattened and bloodied and it looked as if it's the end and then in round 14 he comes back and delivers the killer punch.

"I think people love a comeback and they love somebody who says I'll come back."

Senator Norris withdrew from the race after it emerged he pleaded with an Israeli court for clemency for his former lover, Ezra Yitzhak Nawi, who was convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old Palestinian boy.

The letters prompted a number of Mr Norris's backers to pull their support, which led to the collapse of his presidential bid last month.

However last night, Mr Norris blamed the "intense firestorm of publicity" for the decision to pull out of the race for the Aras.

"At one stage there were teams of people in twos - knock, bang, ring, knock, bang, ring - outside my door. It's extremely difficult to concentrate and your peace of mind is disturbed."

The 67-year-old admitted that the raft of resignations in his campaign team was a major factor in his decision to withdraw.

"They resigned because I came out with my hands up and I said yes I did write a letter. And they were disturbed because they felt that I had concealed it but I hadn't.

"I wrote thousands of letters, literally thousands of letters."

And Mr Norris claimed he "knew nothing" about his former lover's past when he called for clemency.

"My reaction was I was appalled, I was shocked, I was horrified, I knew nothing about it," he said.

"I knew nothing about the defence, I knew nothing about a child, I knew nothing about the conviction. And his lawyers asked me to write. In my opinion it's easy to be a friend...I knew nothing until the conviction.

"I came out with my hands up but when you're in trouble and it's your own fault, I think a friend won't push you down under the wave when you're drowning, they'll reach out the hand."

He added: "Every single politician has written those letters."