The Shame of Ireland
PAUL CULLEN, Political Staff
INTERVIEW TAPE: THE TAPE has emerged of a 2002 interview in which Independent Senator David Norris makes controversial remarks about sexual activity between older and younger men and boys.
The tape was played yesterday on RTÉ’s Liveline , having been found by journalist Helen Lucy Burke, who interviewed Mr Norris in a Dublin restaurant.
Controversy which erupted last June after Ms Burke drew attention to the resulting interview, published in Magill magazine in 2002, was one of the factors that led to Mr Norris withdrawing from the presidential race. He later rejoined the race and secured a nomination to stand in the election.
In the recording, Mr Norris says he can’t understand how anyone could find children sexually attractive.
Ms Burke said last night she had found the tape at home “ages ago” but had deliberately decided not to release it until late in the presidential campaign.
Ms Burke asked whether he believed sexuality should be “free-range or regulated”. Mr Norris replied that the restraints imposed by the State were diminishing.
“Where would you draw the line?” Ms Burke asked. Mr Norris said he wouldn’t draw the line. “I would hope we could produce a society where people would be inclined to draw lines for themselves”.
“What about paedophilia?” she then asked. “There’s a lot of nonsense about that, and I can say this because I haven’t the slightest interest in children,” Mr Norris responded. “I find them a bit of a bore to be honest with you and I cannot understand how anyone could find children of either sex the slightest bit attractive sexually because to me what is attractive about people is their maturity. The fact they display the signs of sexual maturity, that is normal.”
“But pre-pubescent children, who lack any identifying characteristics of sexual maturity, I cannot understand how anyone would find them sexually appropriate.”
“On the other hand,” he continued, “they do. But in terms of classic paedophilia as practised by the Greeks, where it is an older man introducing a younger man or boy to adult life, I think there can be something to be said for that. In terms of the north African experience this is endemic.
“Again, this is not something that appealed to me, although when I was younger it would most certainly have appealed to me in the sense that I would have greatly relished the prospect of an older, attractive, mature man taking me under his wing, loving me, introducing me to sexual realities, treating me with affection and teaching me about life.”
“Yes, I think that would be lovely, I would have enjoyed that. But I am sorry to say I would let down the next generation because I wouldn’t be the slightest bit interested in people who were considerably younger than me.”
Mr Norris then complained about the “complete and utter hysteria” on the issue, particularly in the “gutter press”. He said there was confusion between homosexual behaviour and paedophilia on the one hand, and paedophilia and pederasty on the other.
“There is a whole spectrum in my opinion. “The teacher [or] the Christian Brother who puts his hand into a boy’s pocket during a history lesson, that’s at one end of the spectrum. But then there’s a person who will attack children of either sex, rape them, brutalise them and then murder them, that’s quite different.”
“The way things are presented here it’s almost as though they were all exactly the same and I don’t think they are.” At this point during the conversation, Ms Burke switched off her tape recorder.
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