Senator David NorrisChris Bacon

Presidential candidate David Norris has urged the Irish public not to base their judgment of his character on a ‘couple of sensationalist newspaper headlines’.

Norris made the plea on Irish national radio station RTE after the Daily Mail published an old interview in which he reportedly suggested that he did not believe there should be an age of consent for sexual relations.

The latest controversy follows the recent re-publication of comments on pedophilia made by Norris several years ago.

Norris was the front runner for the presidency until controversial comments in the earlier interview came back to haunt him.

Speaking to the Morning Ireland radio show on Thursday morning, Norris insisted: “I abhor with every fiber of my being the abuse of children.”

He did however suggest that ‘The issue of the age of consent was not as black and white as people suggested’.

Norris said: “Where two people are having sexual relations and one is marginally below the legal age, the judiciary should have the power to examine what he called the principle of consent involved in the relationship.

“Young people are experimenting sexually all the time. This is wrong but sending them to juvenile institutions is questionable.”

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As well as speaking to Irish radio, Norris also emailed a statement to his Presidential campaign supporters in the wake of the latest newspaper story.

Admitting he had been foolish to get involved in some of the issues, Norris did point out that the interviews were conducted many years ago and denied any question marks over his judgment

“There is a difference between being a campaigning senator and a president,” said Senator Norris.

Referring to his views on pederasty, which he described as sexual relations between an older and a younger man in ancient Greece, Norris said: “My experience as a young man in Dublin was that there were no social outlets for gay men. I was left in ignorance by society and didn’t consciously meet another gay male until I was in my 20s.

“Then I read Plato. The greatest philosopher ever argued that physical love was the gateway to spiritual love, very movingly it concludes with the most beautiful man in Athens, Alcibiades admitting that he has offered himself sexually to Socrates in return for sharing in Socrates’ wisdom.

“I saw this enlightening approach and experience as a much more interesting and preferable introduction to sexuality than my own experience. That is my own personal opinion.”

In reference to those comments regarding pedophilia, Senator Norris re-iterated: “I abhor child abuse in all its forms, psychological sexual or emotional. I have always campaigned for children’s rights.

“I have also spoken out strongly in the Seanad on the recent Roscommon child abuse case and on all reports into child abuse. My record in this area speaks for itself.

“Incest is morally and medically wrong. It is dangerous and illegal and justifiably so.”

On the issue of abortion, he said: “Access to information and education is the true champion of reducing the instance of abortion.”

On the campaign for the legalization of some drugs, Norris said in his email: “The blunt instrument of criminalization is not working because of the vast profits it generates for organized crime.

“My view is that the welfare of the community, including the victims of drug abuse, may be better served by having access to quality controlled, legally prescribed drugs.”

In reference to his decision to stand for the role of President, Norris concluded: “Every candidate in every election has personal opinions, which they must set aside in order to fulfill their pubic duties and I intend to be no different and to reflect the broad opinions of a proud Irish nation.”