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David Norris, pictured at the handover of his personal archive to the National Library in 2007. Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland
Race for the Áras

National Library does not know if Norris clemency letters are in archive

The National Library received boxes of David Norris papers but won’t be opening them to the public or media without senator’s permission.

THE NATIONAL LIBRARY of Ireland has said it will not be releasing any material from the personal archive of David Norris “without the express permission” of the senator.

Norris donated personal papers and correspondence to the National Library in December 2007 but the National Library said today that it could not be sure if copies of controversial letters written by the senator pleading clemency for a former partner were among them.

The letters, thought to be six or seven in number, were written by Norris in August 2007 shortly before his former partner, Ezra Nawi, was being sentenced by an Israeli court for a statutory rape conviction.

Norris has refused to release the letters, variously citing the risk of a defamation case and legal advice which claimed the letters were covered by legal privilege.

This afternoon, responding to media queries about whether it could make Norris’s private archive available to the public, the National Library of Ireland said it had been given the archive on the provision that access to it be restricted.

The archive had only been handed over, it said, on the condition “that the Library would not allow access to the collection by readers and other members of the public, without the express permission of Senator Norris”.

Norris had only granted access to a small number of people, who a spokesperson explained had been working on a book about the Trinity College senator and academic.

“The Library has at all times respected Senator Norris’ wishes in this regard,” it said.

A spokesperson for the library could not confirm the status of the book being prepared by the team. The spokesperson also said that library staff could not tell whether copies of the clemency letters were among the “boxes upon boxes” of correspondence received by them from Norris.

Read: Norris says he will not have a spouse in the Áras if elected >

In full: TheJournal.ie’s coverage of the Race for the Áras >

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