David Norris has suffered a new blow in his bid to become President of Ireland – after Independent Deputy Mattie McGrath refused to sign his nomination papers.

The news was delivered as a spokesman for Norris confirmed he had written at least six letters in support of his former boyfriend when he faced child rape charges in 1997.

Deputy McGrath decided to let his constituency workers vote on whether or not he should back the controversial gay senator – and they delivered an emphatic no.

The South Tipperary member of the Irish parliament held his own Presidential poll as far as Norris was concerned on Sunday night when his election workers voted 53-18 against a nomination for the Trinity College academic.

Speaking after a two hour meeting in Cahir, County Tipperary, McGrath told the media: “It’s pretty overwhelming and I will abide by the decision of the meeting despite my earlier personal inclination that I should sign the Senator’s nomination papers.

The Tipp Deputy added: “They are my people, I would not be anywhere without them. I am pole apart from Senator Norris politically but I had been minded to allow him into the democratic process of electing a President.

“After this meeting however I will not go against the people who go out knocking on doors for me at election-time.”

Norris, still riding high in the opinion polls, will need the support of 20 deputies or senators to secure a nomination to run in next month’s election.

He has until Wednesday to procure 20 signatures on his nomination papers but is likely to fall short if he goes down that route.

Instead Norris may have no choice now but to seek the backing of four County Councils before he can run in the election.

Fingal County Council has already pledged to back him but time is against the Senator.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Senator Norris has confirmed a Sunday Times report that he wrote at least six letters seeking clemency for ex-partner Ezra Nawi when he faced a charge of statutory rape in Israel in 1997.

The spokesman confirmed that the Senator had written to then-President of Israel, Ezer Weizman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli ambassador to Ireland Zvi Gabay, special adviser to President Mary Robinson Bride Rosney and the late Conor Cruise O’Brien.

“The letters are practically identical to what has already been published,” said the spokesman. “We need to move on in the campaign, this is old news.”

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