Northern Ireland

Can David Norris still become Ireland's first gay president?

David Norris
Image caption David Norris previously topped the presidential polls

His departure from the presidential race was met with widespread dismay from the Irish electorate - but David Norris could be on the verge of a come-back.

The civil rights campaigner abandoned his bid for Aras an Uachtarain in July, amid controversy over a clemency letter he wrote to Israeli authorities for his former partner Ezra Nawi, who had been convicted of having sex with a 15-year-old boy.

Last weekend, the Sunday Independent claimed that Mr Norris was about to put himself forward once again, following an "consistent outpouring" of public support.

The newspaper said the senator would use an appearance on RTE's Late, Late Show this Friday to publicly state his intention to re-start his Aras campaign.

If so, Mr Norris has just over two weeks to secure the 20 political nominations he needs to get his name on to the presidential ballot paper.

With the 28 September deadline for nominations looming, time is not on his side.

Many independent TDs, who had previously backed the senator have now withdrawn their support, leaving Mr Norris with little other option than to turn to Fianna Fail for help.

However, party sources have indicated they are unlikely to support the former front-runner.

Although they are not running a candidate, many Fianna Fail members believe Mr Norris does not deserve their backing after he turned down their support earlier in the summer.

Unless he can change their minds his latest Aras bid could fall at the first hurdle.

Love and concern

An alternate route would be to secure the support of four county councils, but time is running out.

Despite facing numerous difficulties, Mr Norris does have one ace up his sleeve.

Although, the clemency controversy cost Mr Norris a number of political allies, it did not hamper the public's fascination with the openly-gay, Joycean scholar.

When the letter to the Isreali authorities was released back in July, Mr Norris admitted he made a "human error", but insisted it was borne solely from a sense of love and concern for his former partner.

He bowed out of the race, taking with him much of the public's interest in October's election.

What followed was weeks of speculation about who could fill his shoes.

The electorate's appetite for an equally colourful and charismatic replacement lead to calls for a celebrity to enter the field.

Broadcasters, Gay Byrne and Micheal O'Muircheartaigh considered the idea, before they both backed out and once again quelled the fire of interest in the presidential election.

The re-emergence of David Norris has stoked those flames. Now, the big question is, can he keep them burning?

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