Senator David Norris has admitted that his chances of even running in Ireland’s presidential race are now slim but has vowed to fight on in the wake of the latest media storm.
Two key aides have resigned from the Norris campaign after newspaper revelations concerning his former partner’s conviction for raping a 15-year-old Palestinian boy.
“My bid is in serious trouble and my chances are slim but I am absolutely committed to remaining in the presidential race,” Norris told the Sunday Independent.
Norris had been leading opinion polls until this week but the second controversy over sexual relationships with boys seems certain to doom him.
“I am a pretty odd person. In spite of being in the teeth of a media furore, I haven’t felt as happy or as free in the last year.”
Norris contacted the paper to ‘address’ the issues surrounding the conviction of his former partner Ezra Yizhak Nawi for having sex with an underage Palestinian youth in 1992.
Norris’ relationship with Nawi had ended seven years previously but in 1997 the gay senator provided a character reference to an Israeli court in the first trial and a second reference to Nawi’s lawyers in the subsequent appeal.
“I’m not hiding behind shadows. I have to take it on the chin and reassure people all over the country that I’m the same person I was last week,” added Norris in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Independent.
“It is part of my duty to take it on the chin and reassure people all over the country that I am the same person on Monday morning as I was last week.
“I believe I can get through it because I know the type of man I am.”
In documents seen by the Sunday Independent and written on official Irish Senate headed notepaper, Norris described Nawi as: “a man of the highest integrity and one in whom I place complete confidence.”
He added: “I would have no difficulty whatever in acting as guarantor, sponsor or character reference for him in any circumstance.”
The letter was signed: Senator David Norris, Bureau Member, Irish Foreign Affairs Committee.
According to the paper, he then provided a subsequent nine-page character reference and detailed legal submission to Nawi’s legal team leading the appeal against the first trial, which had found Nawi guilty of underage sex with a Palestinian teenager.
Norris said he was anxious to make it clear that the document was given to Ezra’s lawyers to use if they felt it was appropriate.
“I did not send it directly to the judges,” he added. “I was appalled by what I heard about Ezra’s behaviour. My position still remains that I abhor any abuse of children, whether it is psychological, physical or sexual.’’
Norris attempted to put the reference into context when he said “In 1997, I was in Tibet secretly writing a report on human rights abuses. When I got back home there was all this stuff from Ezra and his lawyers looking for a character reference so I wrote him a character reference.
“People might ask why didn’t I cut and run when I found out what this was. My Hebrew is very rudimentary.
“Initially I couldn’t understand the evidence and for as long as I knew him his relationships were with adult men.
“When the full truth emerged I was shattered. But when you see someone drowning and their head surfaces, you don’t push it back under. You pull them ashore and you confront them with what they have done.
“The furore and the secretive internet campaign that sparked it are guilt by association. I am not Ezra. I have never lived his lifestyle. I loved him. But it has been many people’s fate to love people who have defects.”
Acknowledging the damage done by the latest revelations, Norris said: “I am very sorry that so many of my supporters around the country may feel hurt by these further insinuations.
“I’m happy to abide by the judgment of the Irish people and if they judge me to be unworthy then I’m happy to accept it.”