David Norris: Counting the cost

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David Norris | Kim Haughton | 14420

Irish Senator David Norris is in dispute with a former key campaign adviser over an outstanding debt related to his failed bid to become Ireland’s first gay President. Mr Norris is being sued by PR expert Paul Allen over the non-payment of more than €30,000. Mr Norris retained Mr Allen’s firm, Paul Allen and Associates Public Relations, to act as his public relations director during the presidential campaign. Two payments totalling €61,710 were made to Mr Allen’s firm. A further amount of €30,008 is now in dispute between the parties.

Under the Irish electoral system only candidates who achieve a minimum level of support from the electorate are allowed to claim back electoral expenses and unfortunately Mr Norris failed to reach the threshold.

For much of the early campaign, Mr Norris was the runaway favourite to win but his campaign was damaged when 1990s letters emerged in which he appealed for clemency for his former lover Ezra Nawi who was facing criminal charges in Israel for child abuse at the time. Mr Norris initially withdrew from the race but later re-entered, only to finish in fifth position with just 6.9 per cent of first-preference votes.

Mr Norris spent €331,974 during the campaign but only received €17,929 in donations from the public. As he failed to attract a minimum 12 per cent of first-preference votes, he didn’t qualify for a refund of up to €200,000 from the taxpayer and is now left carrying the weight of a sizeable debt. His ability to cope with the election debt had been in doubt even before polling day when he admitted that he had limited personal resources. “I don’t have great savings, I have spent myself already almost to the limit. I am going into my overdraft,” he said during an election debate.


SP

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