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Tape of controversial Norris interview with Helen Lucy Burke emerges

The tape included excerpts from an interview Norris gave to Burke in 2002 which has caused controversy in recent months over the views he expressed about paedophilia.

Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated 3.25pm

RTÉ’S LIVELINE RADIO phone-in has played a recording of a controversial interview presidential candidate David Norris gave to journalist Helen Lucy Burke in 2002 in which he says there is “something to be said” for “classic paedophilia”.

The comments made in the interview subsequently appeared in a Magill magazine article in 2002 (see links below) and re-emerged last May when Burke went on Liveline to outline why she thought Norris was unsuitable to be president because of his views expressed nine years ago.

Norris said at the time it was a  “smear” on his election campaign and called for the audio to be released.

Now, the tape has emerged just six days before the presidential election next Thursday with polls showing Norris is unlikely to be elected as the ninth president of Ireland.

A spokesperson for Norris told TheJournal.ie that that the senator has listened to the tape as it was broadcast but said there was nothing new in it.

There’s a concerted effort by certain people that don’t want David Norris to be a candidate and don’t want to him be president of Ireland.

“It was an academic discussion, there was wine taken, it was over dinner. That shows the context in which David was speaking,” the spokesperson said adding that the tape was “rehashing” accusations that were levelled at the campaign previously.

He added that it was for “people to decide” if the tape was released as part of an effort to damage Norris’s campaign so close to the election.

Presenter Joe Duffy revealed that Burke found the recording on a dictaphone and put it on a CD before sending it into the programme. The eight minute long recording was played to programme listeners this afternoon.

The final portion of the recording details the following exchange between Norris and Burke regarding his views on paedophilia which have caused the controversy:

Burke: What about paedophilia?

Norris: Well there’s a lot of nonsense about that to be quite honest with you and I can say that because I haven’t the slightest interest in children. I find them a bit of a bore to be quite honest with you. I cannot understand how anybody could find children of either sex the slightest bit attractive sexually.

Because to me what is attractive about people is their maturity and the fact that they display the signs of sexual maturity and I think that is, if I may use a much abused word, normal.

But pre-pubescent children who lack any identifying characteristics of sexual maturity, I cannot understand why anybody would find them sexually appropriate

On the other hand…

Burke: They do…

Norris: Yes they do but in terms of classic paedophilia, as practiced by the Greeks for example where it is an older man introducing a younger man or boy to adult life, I think that there can be something to be said for that and in terms the North African experience, this is kind of endemic.

Now again it is not something that appeals to me although when I was younger it would most certainly would have appealed to me in that sense that I would have greatly relished the prospect of an older, attractive, mature man taking me under his wing, lovingly introducing me to sexual realities and treating me with affection and teaching me about life.

I think yes 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 are considerably younger than me.

But I think there is a complete and utter hysteria on this subject and there’s also a confusion between homosexual behaviour and paedophilia on the one hand. Between paedophilia and pederasty on the other.

If you look for example at the way in which the vicious British tabloid press whipped up hatred against people who are accused of paedophilia and so on… and they misdirected them and a man had his house burnt down. He was burnt to death in it and I think he was… what do they call one of those people who look after your feet? Or he was a podiatrist or something…

Burke: Oh there was eh… what’s the word for a child doctor…

Norris: A pediatrician…

Burke: A pediatrician, she was…

Norris: There was a man who was actually burnt to death in his own house who was nothing whatsoever to do with this area and I think that the gutter press in Britain and in Ireland fanned the flames of this kind of thing and they dehumanised people and called them evil beasts, perverts and all this kind of stuff.

Now of course there is a whole spectrum. In my opinion, the teacher, the Christian Brother who puts his hand into a boy’s pocket during a history lesson, that is one end of the spectrum but then there’s another, that a person who attacks children of either sex, rape them, brutalise them, and then murder them, that’s quite different.

But the way things are presented here, it’s almost as if they were all exactly the same and I don’t think they are.

And I have to tell you this, I believe that the children in some instances, the children are much more…

Listen: the full recording of Helen Lucy Burke’s interview with David Norris >

Read: Norris labels resurfacing of Magill article as ‘smear’ on election campaign >

Read the Magill article in full: Page 1Page 2Page 3

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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