However, the Trinity scholar strongly hinted he would not stand again for election after the uproar caused by the revelation he wrote to Israeli authorities pleading clemency for his ex-partner Ezra Nawi, who had been convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy.
Though insisting that Nawi had never been in a “committed” relationship with him, Mr Norris said: “In one sense, he is the love of my life. You don’t stop loving someone whatever their faults and flaws are.”
Forced out of the presidential election due to the Nawi furore, Mr Norris said he would remain in the Seanad for the rest of his term.
“This Government may last another four years — at that stage I will be 71. Most people resign at 65, but I’m certainly not giving up now. There are too many things I’m interested in,” he told Today FM.
Mr Norris’s political career could be coming to a natural end anyway as the Seanad is due to be abolished at the next general election if the Government wins a referendum on theissue.
Despite leading opinion polls in the race for the Áras, Mr Norris bowed out of the contest after his support among the Oireachtas members he needed for a nomination began to collapse.
A defiant Mr Norris said he did not regret putting himself forward for the presidency as he had proved that a gay man could be taken seriously as a candidate for the highest office in the land. Mr Norris also called for a radical shake-up of the nomination procedure.
The senator insisted he had been wrong not to show more concern for the victim of the rape.
In an emotional withdrawal from the contest, delivered on the steps of his home, Mr Norris said: “I deeply regret the most recent of all the controversies concerning my former partner of 25 years ago, Ezra Nawi. I do not regret supporting and seeking clemency for a friend, but I do regret giving the impression that I did not have sufficient compassion for the victim of Ezra’s crime,” he said.
“I accept that more than a decade and a half later when I have now reviewed the issue, and am not emotionally involved, when I am not afraid that Ezra might take his own life, I see that I was wrong. He served his time and never offended again,” he said.
Mr Norris, at times close to tears, said he had been concerned for his former partner’s mental health.
“Yes, his actions were terrible, but my motivation to write the letter was out of love and concern. I was eager to support someone who has been very important and continues to be important in my life,” he said.
Mr Norris ended with a Samuel Beckett quite: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”