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Norris slams 'betrayal' of Irish people, insists he's the '24-carat' independent

A hugely anticipated speech focused on the recent report on people in mortgage arrears as David Norris insisted he is the only true independent in the presidential race.

David Norris speaks to reporters outside Leinster House this morning.
David Norris speaks to reporters outside Leinster House this morning.
Image: Susan Daly

Updated 11.51am

DAVID NORRIS HAS today spoken about what he sees as the “betrayal” of the Irish people through the recent report on mortgage arrears.

In a speech outside Leinster House today Norris said he was declaring today “independent’s day” as he is a true independent candidate for president and denied speculation that he was pulling out of the presidential race.

“I intend to fight on behalf of all people of Ireland,” he said.

He complained that the recent Keane report, which recommended a number of proposals to help homeowners including trade-down mortgages, split mortgages and sale by agreement, had not gone far enough in helping people.

He said it was a “horrifying example of the government putting the protection of the system… above the protection of the people.”

He said the panel, chaired by accountant Declan Keane, consisted of representatives of the banks and not people from organisations like New Beginnings, a homeowner’s advocacy group.

Norris insisted that the much-hyped statement today was not a publicity stunt, adding: “This is not an act of desperation”.

He also said that by saying he was the only independent he was not making a “slur” on other independent candidates such as Seán Gallagher, who leads the latest poll, and Mary Davis.

He said that other candidates may wear “the badge of independent” but added “I have never been part of a political party, been appointed to a state board” or had been backed by political parties.

The senator continued: “It is perfectly clear that Seán Gallagher was on the board of the national executive of Fianna Fáil until recently”.

“I am the 24-carat independent,” he added.

Norris had tweeted last night that he was to make a “very important speech” at the gates of Leinster House this morning. As it happened, a campaign spokesperson assembled reporters and TV cameras on the plinth inside the Kildare Street entrance, telling the media that Norris would not be allowed to speak on matters relating to the presidential campaign because he was speaking inside the grounds of the Oireachtas of which he is a member.

When the assembled reporters grumbled that they had been brought there under the assumption that it was a statement relating to his presidential campaign (the tweet last night was marked ‘#aras11′) the Norris campaign relented and Norris made his statement on the pavement outside Leinster House.

- additional reporting from Susan Daly

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Hugh O'Connell

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