David Norris Launches Presidential Bid On Trinity Campus. Danielle Ryan comments on David Norris’s student-orientated campaign for the presidency.
Last Monday saw the official launch of David Norris’s campaign for president, held in the Science Gallery in Trinity. Primarily an event attended by press, it felt more like a room of excited supporters. The enthusiasm in the room was palpable. Norris took to the podium to applause and began his speech by announcing that he was indeed seeking “the highest office in the land”. He acknowledged that the victory he seeks will not be easy, but that he seeks the office “not for its glories, but for the difference it can make”. During his speech, Norris made reference to past presidents, noting his believe that the office of president “exemplifies all that is good about our country”. The senator highlighted mental health as a cornerstone issue of his campaign, and made reference to the figure of 527 people who committed suicide in Ireland in 2009 alone and vowed to “remove the stigma and meet the crisis head-on”. This figure, he said, highlights the rise of a silent crisis in a country whose people above all must find a way to “renew their self belief”. It is in the nature of Irish people to “endure, overcome and succeed”, he said, and we must become a country which “values its young, respects its old and cherishes all of the people of the nation equally”. The floor was opened for questions after the speech, and unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the questions focused directly or indirectly on Norris’s sexuality. In fact, an Irish Times reporter who received first question privileges opened with “you have never been shy about your sexuality…” and questions from other reporters followed that pattern for the most part.
Norris, appearing unfazed and unbothered by questions pertaining to his sexuality did at one point inject a reality check for journalists seemingly stuck on the issue, by announcing to applause, that while he has no problem answering their questions, he believes that the Irish people are rather “bored” by his sexuality at this stage. Asked whether he would be willing to take a pay cut were he to win the office of president, he said that he does not believe he needs the full salary (currently €250,000) and that he plans to set aside a significant proportion of the salary which he would invest in making the presidency more accessible to the people, but refrained from giving details on exactly how much he meant by “significant figure”. In a quick interview granted to the University Times, third in line after RTE and TV3, I asked Norris did he have a message of support for the students of Ireland, graduating into uncertain times, to which he replied that we “do have a lot to be positive about” but that we also must be “realistic”. To the question of emigration he believes that students should travel to gain experience “if necessary”. This, he believes is “not the end of the world”, but he continued on; “the one thing I would say is please, if it’s possible, stay here. We are going to lift this country up again, and I want you all around when this happens”. To hear David Norris speak, one could not help feeling hopeful, and it is indeed very difficult not to believe him. Published in The University Times, 2011.