herald

Monday 24 September 2018

'Support for Cathal based on justice'

THE David Norris campaign today said his support for disgraced poet Cathal O Searcaigh was based on the need for natural justice.

The presidential hopeful was one of the few public figures who offered backing to O Searcaigh after the writer was accused of sexually exploiting boys in Nepal.

Norris is trying to get his presidential campaign back on track, after nine-year-old comments he made on paedophilia re-emerged this week.

The senator has previously defended the Irish-language poet O Searcaigh (54), despite the damning nature of a documentary on O Searcaigh's relationships with Nepalese teenagers.

In 2008, Mr Norris called for the RTE programme -- entitled Fairytale Of Kathmandu -- to be investigated by a cross-party Oireachtas committee.

Fairytale Of Kathmandu was aired on March 11, 2008, despite representations from supporters of O Searcaigh, including Mr Norris, that it should be halted.

A spokeswoman for Mr Norris has now told the Herald the independent politician took the stance because he is a "strong believer in natural justice".

"He feels that the trial by media that took place around this issue would have frustrated any criminal proceedings," she said.

The senator has been battling to put his campaign back on track since comments he made about paedophilia resurfaced.

In remarks made to journalist Helen Lucy Burke in 2002, Mr Norris said: "(In) terms of classic paedophilia, as practiced by the Greeks, for example, where it is an older man introducing a younger man to adult life, there can be something said for it. Now, again, this is not something that appeals to me."

The senator defended himself, saying he was having an academic discussion.

"I was referring to ancient, classical Greece and their sexual habits," he said.

"Why is this coming up now? This is a 10-year-old article ... I think it's appalling. I'm astonished to know she chose to do this now. I'd like to know why."

comurphy@herald.ie

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