A leading candidate in Ireland’s presidential race has dropped out following a scandal involving his former partner's rape of a 15-year-old boy.
The chance for Ireland to elect Europe’s first gay president failed after David Norris announced he was withdrawing from the race, after it emerged he had pleaded for charges against his former partner in a statutory rape case be dropped.
According to a story in the Guardian, Norris wrote to the Israeli authorities in 1997 appealing for clemency for his former partner, Ezra Yitzhak Nawi, an Israeli peace activist.
Nawi was later found guilty of the statutory rape of the Palestinian boy and served time in prison.
The independent senator said the revelations had seriously affected his chances of success in the polls.
"I would have loved to have had the opportunity as president of Ireland to extend that to the service of the entire people but that is no longer possible."
"The recent frenzy threatened to erode that principle and it is now time for me to reassert as far as possible control of my life and destiny."
On Tuesday night members of the Irish parliament withdrew their support for Norris’ candidacy, sealing his fate.
Norris is Ireland's leading James Joyce scholar but he quoted Samuel Beckett when announcing the end of his bid.
“As I came across the Samuel Beckett bridge today into my mind came his words about humanity and frailty: 'Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.' "
In a statement Norris said: "I deeply regret the most recent of all the controversies concerning my former partner of 25 years ago, Ezra Nawi. The fallout from his disgraceful behavior 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 process."
Some of his supporters urged him to stay in the race and not let the media drive him out.