David Norris | Ireland | News

Gay Candidate David Norris Back in Irish Presidential Race, and Leading

Could Ireland soon have a gay President? It appears that way.

Norris Sen. David Norris, who left the race in August following the disclosure of letters to Israeli authorities asking for clemency for a former partner in a statutory rape case, is back, in and leading the pack, CNN reports:

Sen. David Norris completed an extraordinary comeback Tuesday, securing the political backing he needed to get onto the ballot after withdrawing over a sex scandal in August, then changing his mind and jumping back into the race.

He leads the field, according to an opinion poll published in the Sunday Business Post this week, followed by Michael D. Higgins of the Labour Party and McGuinness, the Sinn Fein politician who stepped down as deputy first minister of Northern Ireland to run for president of the republic....

...Norris -- tipped to be the country's first openly gay head of state -- got onto the ballot, thanks to an 11th-hour intervention by his rival Higgins.

Ahead of a vote by Dublin city councilors, Higgins recommended to Labour colleagues they facilitate the entry of Norris to the presidential race "in the interests of democracy."

There are seven candidates in the election, which takes place October 27.

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  1. What strikes me most from all of this is that this is a plus for Ireland, a tribute to the intelligence of the Irish population and a blow against bigotry. The Irish voters haven't elected Norris yet, but they simply want to have their say. Since I live in the U.S., I will personally refrain from being too critical of Irish voters since American voters have so often made such unwise choices. I wouldn't want to be the pot calling the kettle black.

    Yes, I understand that some Internet commenters will criticize the legal system of France and all countries that adopted the Napoleonic Code. To spell that out letter by letter, 15 years of age is the age of consent under the Napoleonic Code, as opposed to the majority of the English-speaking world where the age of consent is 16 years of age. Yes, I also understand the some Internet commenters will criticize Ancient Greek civilization, which was the context in which Norris made some of the comments that people are debating. But I think that when people dwell on those two criticisms, they miss the main point, which is that Ireland is changing for the better. There really is no downside to that, n'est ce pas?

    Posted by: Artie | Sep 28, 2011 11:17:38 AM


  2. Given the bitter partisanship in the U.S., it's quite striking to me that David Norris' rival for the Presidency advocated for him to be allowed on the ballot "in the interests of democracy." Maybe there's some political shenanigans I don't know about (diluting the support of other rivals?), but it seems quite refreshing at face value.

    Posted by: Kevin_BGFH | Sep 28, 2011 11:42:33 AM


  3. Oh please...

    Artie: could I put this in your context? If an American politician had written letter to an israeli judge seeking clemancy for his gay ex-lover who'd been jailed for having sex with a 15 year old Palestinian boy, would you have such a rose-tinted view about someone like that becoming your 45th President?

    Well that's the context, and as an Irish gay man who will be voting, I'm frankly annoyed this is the "gay choice". Do we have to have a gay president to prove anything really?Is that all there is, as the song asks?

    Kevin_BGFH: A rival asked that he'd be included on the ballot because Norris can then be questioned as nauseum about his actions, it is not necessarily about being "nice". Rather Michael D Higgins (former President of the Irish Labour Party, and Labour's candidate) might hope to get Norris's transfer votes when the votes get to the 3rd or 4th round of the count.And yes, I'm voting Labour!

    Posted by: SeanR | Sep 28, 2011 1:14:09 PM


  4. If he wins, I am moving to Ireland. Hell yes!

    Posted by: Alhamdu | Sep 28, 2011 1:50:14 PM


  5. He has serious questions to answer.

    Posted by: Paschal | Sep 28, 2011 1:56:12 PM


  6. He wrote a letter requesting clemency for a former partner convicted of statutory rape.

    That's neither illegal nor immoral. It's called being a friend.

    Politicians write official letters all the time.

    Another candidate in the race (Gay Mitchell) wrote a letter requesting clemency for a man sentenced to death in Texas for 1st degree murder. There has been barely a mention of that in the Irish media.

    The whole 'letter of clemency' issue was detailed in the Irish press back in 2008. It didn't cause a ripple. People didn't care.

    Is it a coicidence that the 'controversy' erupted when Norris stood for president? Or was it part of a homophobic witch-hunt?

    David Norris has a proud record as a public representative and as a human rights campaigner.

    And he enjoys a lot of popular support. He is one of the favourites to win, meaning the Irish public really don't care as much about this 'scandal' as the rightwing would wish it would.

    Posted by: SteveC | Sep 28, 2011 2:10:00 PM


  7. And apparently Pope Ratzinger is threatening a visit to Ireland next year.

    I would love to see the video of Il Papa, spewing his bile about homosexuality, while President Norris sneers at him, by his side.

    Posted by: SteveC | Sep 28, 2011 2:13:04 PM


  8. "I would love to see the video of Il Papa, spewing his bile about homosexuality, while President Norris sneers at him, by his side."

    Why? They both have a lot in common: they both have implicitly condoned child molestation.

    Posted by: Nat | Sep 28, 2011 2:30:23 PM


  9. I am thrilled Norris is on the ballot, and will be voting for him. However, although he may have a slight lead in the polls now, I seriously doubt that will remain the case. The knives are out for him, and the controversy over the letters (plural - there are more that haven't yet been made public but it seems it's only a matter of time) isn't going away anytime soon and has already damaged his chances. And will no doubt inflict more damage.

    I believe the letters are perfectly reasonable - he essentially wrote a character reference for an ex lover who had been found guilty of having sex with a 15 year old (we won't even get in to the fact that the ex lover is an Arab human rights campaigner who has been a thorn in Israel's side, and he was convicted in an Israeli court five years after the offense, against the wishes of the victim - not pointing any fingers, but it's just a generally murky situation), but most people in Ireland, even people who would have supported him before this, think writing the letters was a terrible mistake. And add to that the foolishly open remarks about sex with boys and ancient Greek pederasty made over a decade ago that have now been dragged up and made to appear sinister. Remember this is a country that has recently been convulsed by the revelations around child abuse and the Church, so the population is not in the mood for grey areas or fine academic points about ancient Greek pederasty.

    And it's particularly frustrating that the gay candidate now has this unfair controversy concerning sex and underage boys hanging over him. Depressing actually.

    Posted by: ron | Sep 28, 2011 2:32:27 PM


  10. Well, at the end of the day for the rest of the world is not about him winning or losing and being gay. But about visibility. That some guy in a country can compete with fair chances –I guess- for the presidency regardless of being gay. When you have African countries proposing the death penalty and Muslim countries actually enforcing it, such political freedom can mean at least a little light for those who are oppressed.

    Posted by: Lexxvs | Sep 28, 2011 2:40:31 PM


  11. "And it's particularly frustrating that the gay candidate now has this unfair controversy concerning sex and underage boys hanging over him. Depressing actually."

    There's nothing unfair at all about the controversy. The only unfair thing is if the average person thinks that all gay men believe the same as Norris about sexual abuse.

    If Norris didn't want controversy, he shouldn't espouse views on how fondling boys isn't all that bad.

    Posted by: Nat | Sep 28, 2011 2:53:49 PM


  12. And we can stop acting like this dude is going to be "president" of Ireland. The office he will hold is nothing more than a glorified social secretary, party planner.

    Progress..whoopee

    Posted by: Marlee | Sep 28, 2011 5:30:40 PM


  13. While CNN may tip Norris to become President, the Irish political journalists do not. Even if he leads in the opinion polls or the first count on election day, he is not considered "transfer friendly" (see Proportional Representation Electoral System) and thus other candidates, such as Higgins, who are considered transfer friendly, are more likely to be the first to achieve 50% of the votes needed to win.

    Posted by: MikeR | Sep 28, 2011 6:17:54 PM


  14. I'm voting for Norris. Even though he will most likely get the highest number of no. 1 votes, he won't get many transfer. I'd say Michael D. Higgins will win which is fine since he's a widely respected figure in Irish politics and a member of Labour.

    Posted by: Andreas | Sep 29, 2011 6:18:46 AM


  15. In all fairness to Norris, he never condoned, in fact he has repeatedly condemned all forms of child abuse including sex between a teenager and a much older man. That said, he made a serious mistake,

    Posted by: Paschal | Sep 29, 2011 1:37:25 PM


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