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Heavy-handed tactics Norris's minders used to try to gag me

I MUST SAY, I expected a lot more from the campaign of someone who presents himself as so urbane.

I've been assigned to cover the race for the Aras by this newspaper and have been subject to some worrying tactics by members of the Norris team.

Intimidating is a word I'd use to describe some of the methods.

What David Norris knows about the tactics is anyone's guess.

I would hope he'd have nothing to with them.

From last Friday's Late Late Show right up to this morning, when I was threatened by one of his staff that I wouldn't "get any more stories" if I continued to write "bulls**t."

But let me shed a little more light on events.

It's Friday night last at the RTE studios in Donnybrook and Senator Norris has finished his Late Late Show interview.



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"Mr Norris, will you release those seven clemency letters before the end of the presidential campaign?" I ask.

"In a recent radio interview you said you were sleeping on Ezra Nawi's sitting room floor in the '80s when he received a number of phone calls from his victim -- can you elaborate on that?" I further ask.

He doesn't answer my questions.

He will not say anything about whether he will release those controversial clemency letters.

And he doesn't elaborate on witnessing the calls from Nawi's 15-year-old victim.

I persevere, hoping for some sort of answer from the Presidential candidate.

As the 10-minute press conference draws to a close, I receive some unexpected and rather uncomfortable attention from the Norris campaign team.

An Android smart phone with a message written on it is passed to me by one of his handlers.

"Your line of questioning is despicable," it reads.

I glance at it and pass it back to Mr Norris's handler.

Following that, I have a short one-on-one conversation with Mr Norris. I shook his hand and we share a joke.

Immediately, we're interrupted by another handler who makes it clear the Senator should not engage in conversation with me. So much for an open campaign.

Mr Norris's people want to pick and choose who they talk to.

And they will only choose those who won't ask the hard questions. It's not unlike the tactics used by Sinn Fein down the years.

Pick friendly journalists to break stories and use the broadcast media to feed your line.

Personally, I felt I was being vilified and, dare I say it, intimidated by the heavyhanded tactics of the Norris minders.



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I complained to his chief advisor, Paul Allen. He told me in a phone conversation that what happened at the press conference was "unacceptable".

"That shouldn't have happened," he said.

The second presidential debate takes place tonight in TV3. I will be there.

And I will continue to ask the questions which need answers if we are to have the full facts before we make up our minds ahead of the election.