David Norris is back in the headlines again.
Just when the Trinity Senator seemed to be gaining traction in his bid to confirm the necessary number of endorsements to make the ballot paper, it has emerged that there are an incredible seven more clemency letters that he has yet to make public.
The new is likely to raise further questions about Norris' suitability for the office, and return to not-too-distant memories Norris' first clemency letter to an Israeli court -- which forced him into taking temporary leave of the presidential campaign trail.
Knowledge that there were a string of further clemency letters yet to come out has been known in Irish media and political circles almost since news of the first one broke, but Independent TD Mattie McGrath last night became the first independent to buck the trend of recent approbations that Norris has received, indicating that his newfound backers may still be concerned as to what this fresh batch of letters contains.
Norris' campaign team, or his new one (the last one gave up in disgust after the fist controversial communique was made public) has been resolute in its refusal to release the new batch of letters, but that's only likely to raise the curiosity of those eager to see what they contain -- and what Norris, in this collection, has asked for.
The clemency letter written to an Israeli court on behalf of his ex-lover Nawi provoked a storm of controversy when it was made public in June, and for those who read the letter reproduced in an Irish Sunday newspaper, it portrayed Norris in anything but a favourable light.
Written, fatally for Norris, on official government notepaper, the clemency plea was a lengthy, boring, and crushingly arrogant bid to 'get off' a convicted sex offender whom he used to be in a relationship with.
Norris informed the Israeli judiciary of how he was a 'position of some importance' in Ireland, before lecturing the no doubt disinterested judges on how, under Irish law, Nawi's conviction would be reduced.
Not only was the comparison to Irish law obviously irrelevant, the entire letter made little sense, and the only coherent reason that emerged for Nawi to get off was simply because Norris thought he should.
The letter undoubtedly ended up in a Jerusalem shredding machine, but the letter, and the subsequent reaction to it, caused an international reaction against Norris, with even the New York Times weighing in with its take on the story.
And while those who claim that Norris has been the victim of a relentless smear campaign have enjoyed some credence in the Irish media, Norris is also the only candidate who has consistently refused to give the Irish public full disclosure on his turbulent past.
Norris may have been a looming figure in the Irish political establishment for years -- he almost single-handedly overturned Irish legislation criminalizing consensual homosexual conduct -- but the letters remained unknown until this June.
A brief 'clemency' fiasco briefly threatened to dog Gay Mitchell around the same time, but was petty by comparison to Norris' please.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter also recently caused a small ruckus by opining that Martin McGuinness was 'unsuitable' for the job, based on his paramilitary past, but Norris alone has been hit by a series of scandals, which he and his PR team have repeatedly failed to quell by insisting on withholding the 'incriminating' evidence, and ignoring the existence of the letters until they were leaked to the Irish press.
If Norris is on the verge of securing the requisite number of backers to furnish his election papers to Dublin's Customs House in time, then he would probably be well advised to hold his hands in the air and come clean on what, about whom, and to whom, he wrote in the seven remaining unpublished letters.
Otherwise his brief interlude from the race, thus-far total lack of honesty, and increasing public curiosity as to what these letters contain -- and why his team are insisting on withholding them - may be enough to dissuade people from voting for him on the all important ballot day.
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