David Norris has withdrawn his name for consideration for election to the Presidency of Ireland.

I believe that David Norris is an honest and forthright politician who has always followed the strength of his convictions. His courage has served Ireland well and his pioneering of the rights of a long-suppressed sector of Irish society deserves the kind of recognition that cannot be undone by the errors of judgement that have come to light; all the recent criticism of him does not overshadow his immense contribution to human rights in this country.

I regret that Senator Norris has left the race for the Áras in the way he has. Of the declared candidates to date, I do not think he was the best person to become President, but there is an unfortunate self-righteousness amongst those who are celebrating his exit, and we all, gay and straight, owe him a debt for fighting for the beginning of our collective enlightenment.

We were expecting David Norris to address Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council on the 5th of September. Unfortunately, he will not now be present, but other putative candidates for the presidency will be.

You can read some international comment – from The Guardian (UK) – on his departure here.

You can listen to his gracious interview on TodayFM’s Last Word here.

Barry Ward 2/08/2011

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