SENATOR DAVID NORRIS is undergoing medical treatment for a serious cancer, he revealed today.
The Dublin-based politician issued a statement in response to a number of media inquiries concerning his health and well-being.
He thanked the team of consultants at St. Vincent’s Private Hospital for the “superb treatment” he has received and confirmed that the illness appears to be related to an initial incidence of viral hepatitis contracted in eastern Europe in the mid-1990s.
The 68-year-old said he will return to work in the coming days.
The statement in full:
My office has been contacted in recent days by sections of the press making inquiries concerning my state of health and general medical condition. The following statement will I hope provide an adequate response.
I am currently undergoing medical management for a serious cancer condition. I am extremely grateful for the superb treatment I have received from the team of consultants at St. Vincent’s Private Hospital as well as the nursing and general hospital staff.
The cancer appears to be related to the initial incidence of viral hepatitis which I contracted from tainted drinking water while I was on unpaid Government business in Eastern Europe in 1994.
I have no difficulty in making this information public in response to press queries because I believe that there should be no stigma attaching to cancer as a disease. I continue to enjoy life and am looking forward to returning to my duties in Seanad Eireann over the next few days.
Senator David Norris.
The Man who nearly became Ireland’s first Gay President
The move to make homosexual acts no longer illegal followed a 16-year-old legal battle which began in 1977, when Senator David Norris began a case against Ireland’s draconian laws. Norris’s case came before the High Court in 1980, where it was rejected, and before the Supreme Court in 1983, where it was also rejected by five judges who found that the laws which made homosexual acts a crime did not contravene the Constitution.
Norris then took the case to the European Court of Human Rights, with the help of Mary Robinson, where judges finally ruled that Irish laws contravened the Convention on Human Rights. Five years later, the laws were changed.
“The passage of the Bill was one of the most important steps in the liberation of gay people in Ireland,” said Rose. “It led to new generations of lesbian and gay people able to live their lives more openly.”
Talking the talk on sharing the pain will not suffice for a Coalition that continues to defend its indefensible privileges
NEXT MONTH’S budget will be a moment of truth for the Coalition and it really needs to come up with a bold gesture to show the public that it is going to lead by example when it comes to the imposition of further hardship.
An analysis of the generous ministerial pension regime published earlier this week by The Irish Times was a reminder that the elite among the political class are still pampering themselves, despite the severe cutbacks affecting other members of society.
The analysis put the market value of the pension entitlements of the current Cabinet at €36 million, but it did not take account of the far greater cost of paying very generous pensions to a range of senior politicians who have already retired.
The actuarial cost of that would easily exceed €100 million. For instance Mary Robinson has an annual pension of €187,297 for her 6½ years in Áras an Uachtaráin and 20 years in Seanad Éireann.
Funding a pension of that magnitude for somebody in the private sector would cost a minimum of €6 million and possibly much more. The pensions paid to former taoisigh and former government ministers are not far behind, ranging from about €120,000 a year for most of the ministers in the last government to over €150,000 for Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen.
Robinson and Ahern have gifted part of the pensions back to the State, but their entitlements are extraordinary and appear to be wildly in excess of the pension arrangements for public figures in other EU countries.
Given the scale of the financial crisis facing the country, and the fact that it has taken the bailout to keep the State functioning for the past two years, it is amazing that no effort has been made to scale back the pension entitlements of former as well as current politicians.
As with other parts of the public service, new entrants into politics in 2010 suffered a significant reduction in entitlements and will be able to claim pensions only at the age of 65, but for the older generation of politicians, almost all of the entitlements they amassed during the boom are intact.
To be fair the current crop of politicians have taken a series of pay cuts since the start of the crisis but their salaries are still among the highest in the democratic world and those already on pensions have hardly been touched.
The excuse given by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin for not touching some of the most privileged pensioners in the country is that they had “a legitimate expectation” that the current arrangements would continue to apply, regardless of the pressure on the State’s finances.
Strangely enough “legitimate expectation” does not seem to apply to those outside the public service. People in private sector pension schemes have received letters in the past two months informing them that their future entitlements will be cut as a result of the levy on pension funds introduced by the Government last year to fund its jobs initiative.
Politicians are not the only ones to benefit from enhanced public sector pensions. Judges, semi-State senior executives, Army officers and gardaí all benefit in varying degrees from a system that nobody in the political world appears willing to challenge.
How public service pensions of all kinds will be funded in the future is an issue that will have to be faced at some stage. The most recent estimate in 2009 of the accrued liability to the State for public service pensions was €116 billion.
Given the flood of early retirements since then, that figure is now undoubtedly much higher. An official report published during the week pointed out that public service pensions now account for 14.8 per cent of the annual pay bill, up from 8.5 per cent in 2007.
The figure has risen by 67 per cent – up from €1.5 billion in 2007 to €2.5 billion this year. Yet the political system is paying scant regard to how this escalating liability can be put on a sustainable basis into the future.
The immediate danger facing the country as it heads into its final phase of reckoning for the excesses of the boom is that the contrast between the way different groups have been treated will lead to a breakdown of the social cohesion that has been such a feature of the crisis.
About 75 per cent of the adjustment required to get the State’s finances back on track has already been achieved. The final 25 per cent is probably going to be the most painful of all and it will take a lot of political skill and courage to see it through to the end.
That is why it is imperative that the Coalition comes up with a budget package that demonstrates a genuine commitment to fairness rather than paying lip service to the notion while continuing to protect its own privileges.
The unremitting focus by the Coalition and its opponents on the bank debt has, if anything, only obscured the real choices facing the country.
The Government has overhyped the scale and timing of a debt deal while the Opposition has been far too dismissive of its prospects.
The likely outcome is that a deal on the debt will ultimately be done but it will not happen quickly and the precise nature of the arrangements will probably not become clear until the end of next year.
Just as Albert Reynolds got the £8 billion from the EU in the 1990s, despite the dismissive claims of his political opponents and media critics, Enda Kenny will most likely deliver a substantial deal on the bank debt, but it is going to take time.
The more critical challenge facing the Taoiseach and his Government is the fact that the public finances remain in a parlous state due to the collapse in tax revenues after 2008, combined with the failure to rein in expenditure. So far the Coalition has managed to keep on course towards a more sustainable budgetary position, but imagination as well as gritty determination will be needed to see the job through.