The whole David Norris business is a disappointment, in so many ways.
Disappointing, for one, as it will come as a godsend to those who were opposed to an openly gay man standing for the Irish presidency. Interestingly, however, despite Norris’s difficulty in getting the required nominations from his fellow politicians, he had been the public’s leading choice according to the polls.
The real problem occurred when it was revealed that Norris wrote to an Israeli court in 1997, seeking clemency for an ex-partner who had had sex with a 15-year-old. I think the term is known as statutory rape, the reasoning being that a minor is not legally at an age to consent to sex.
Norris, it seemed, wanted to help his ex-partner in some way. I suppose we would all try to help someone we cared about no matter what they had been accused of – but to do so on Government headed paper was his big mistake.
Having said that, Fintan O’Toole, writing in yesterday’s Irish Times, brought attention to the culture of politicians interceding on behalf of constituents in similar serious matters.
For instance, he cites a case in 2002 “when it emerged that junior minister Bobby Molloy intervened in a much more serious way on behalf of a child rapist, Patrick Naughton, the then Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, defended him on the basis of ‘that’s what politicians do. A TD is a public representative and you make representations’ ”
That’s the kind of attitude we expect from Fianna Fail. And there’s the rub… we expect those who are not from that dreadful party to have higher standards. Norris does, I am sure, have higher standards. I think he just got personally caught up in events.
Once this story broke from all those years ago, however, his presidential ambitions were always going to be distinctly past tense.
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