David Norris

The leading and openly-gay candidate for the president of Ireland has withdrawn after it came to light that he sought leniency for an ex convicted of having sex with a minor.

Senator David Norris, who was in the election top spot in public opinion polls, wrote a letter 14 years ago to Israeli authorities asking them for clemency towards former partner Ezra Nawi after he was found guilty of having sex with a 15-year-old Palestinian boy.

“I do not regret supporting and seeking clemency for a friend, but I do regret giving the impression that I did not have sufficient compassion for the victim of Ezra’s crime,” Norris said in a statement after dropping out of the presidential race.

“The fall-out from his disgraceful behaviour has now spread to me and is in danger of contaminating others close to me both in my political and personal life. It is essential that I act decisively now to halt this negative process.

“The election is now entering a new phase of reality and I hope that it will be conducted in a way that is dignified and respectful of the office of president and of the remaining candidates,” he said.

Norris was the first openly-gay person to be elected to public office in Ireland and was tipped to become the country’s first openly-gay president.

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