A jubilant Mr Norris said he was “delighted, honoured and indeed humbled” after securing a nomination from Dublin City Council, giving him the fourth such nomination required to get his name on the ballot paper.
Speaking in Dublin City Hall shortly after the vote, he referenced a portrait on the walls and said: “Daniel O’Connell at one time was the king of the Irish people, another time he was reviled, and yet he came through…
“If I can make this extraordinary comeback, then this wonderful country can make an equally extraordinary comeback and I hope to be there at the head of it in order to guide it and help it and empathise and understand the people.
“And to anybody who has been hurt or troubled by anything I may have said inadvertently, let me just say this: I apologise for any hurt from the bottom of my heart.”
But he refused to take questions, and failed to commit to publishing the letters, despite having earlier been challenged to do so by councillors.
Asked about the letters as he left, he would only say: “This is a night to celebrate democracy.”
Minutes earlier, the council had voted to pass a motion agreeing to nominate Mr Norris by 30 votes to six, with 11 abstentions. The majority of Labour councillors voted in favour of the motion, after the party’s own candidate, Michael D Higgins, urged them not to block Mr Norris.
Fine Gael also allowed a free vote, but its councillors mostly abstained, with a handful joining several Independents in voting against the motion.
Several councillors said it was only right that the public, rather than politicians, had the final say on Mr Norris’s candidacy. Other councillors praised his record in protecting civil liberties and fighting for gay rights.
But several took issue with the clemency letters and comments previously made by Mr Norris about paedophilia and pederasty.
Fianna Fáil councillor Paul McAuliffe voted for the motion, but challenged Mr Norris to publish the letters and make an unambiguous statement spelling out his views on the age of consent.
But Independent Damian O’Farrell, who voted against, said he was not prepared to “turn a blind eye” to those issues and said there was an attempt being made to “brush them under the carpet”.
The council’s decision to nominate Mr Norris means there will be seven candidates when nominations close today.
Another Independent, Dana, yesterday also secured the support to get on the ballot paper. The other candidates are Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell, Mr Higgins of Labour, Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin and Independents Mary Davis and Sean Gallagher.
MICHAEL D HIGGINS — Evens
DAVID NORRIS — 9/4
MARTIN McGUINNESS — 3/1
GAY MITCHELL — 7/1
MARY DAVIS — 12/1
SEAN GALLAGHER — 40/1
DANA ROSEMARY SCALLON — 40/1