Norris regrets any offence caused by “fanny” remark
Official complaint lodged against outspoken Senator
Senator David Norris regretted any offence
Independent Senator and former presidential election candidate David Norris has said he regretted any offence he had caused by accusing Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty of “talking through her fanny”.
However, Mr Norris said what he regretted most was that his remarks would be “used in this dirty campaign as a diversion” ahead of the referendum to abolish or retain the Seanad.
Mr Norris, who is opposed to the closure of the Upper House, made his remarks about Ms Doherty in the chamber on Monday.
Responding to Ms Doherty’s characterisation of the Seanad as “shockingly undemocratic”, Mr Norris used the word “fanny” after incorporating Ms Doherty’s first name into a reference to the title of the play The Vagina Monologues.
“I object in the strongest possible way to the idea that someone who has spent years in the House should have to listen to the Regina monologue from someone who has not been a wet weekend in the Oireachtas and is talking through her fanny,” he said.
His remarks prompted immediate protests from other Senators, although laughter could also be heard in the chamber.
Ms Doherty, who is deputy director of Fine Gael’s referendum campaign, confirmed that she had made a complaint to Seanad cathaoirleach Paddy Burke in the morning. She previously described Mr Norris’ language as “sexist and deeply inappropriate” as well as “contrived and intentional”.
She also said she had been upset by what she described as the “personal nature” of the remarks.
Mr Norris also delivered his explanation to the Seanad yesterday morning. “I regret any offence, but what I regret most is that this will be used in this dirty campaign as a diversion,” he said.
He accepted that his language was “intemperate” and said he would like to withdraw “some of the words” that gave offence.
“I was simply furious, having just possessed a copy of this mendacious document in which those of us who over the past 30 years have campaigned for Seanad reform were smeared in the nastiest way,” he said.
“This will be a very dirty campaign and it comes from the top. I was incandescent with rage . . . I do not intend to go into a lengthy, linguistic explanation and try to defend what I said . . .”
Mr Norris said there was no personal antagonism between himself and Ms Doherty: “There is no disagreement. There is nothing but friendship. I did not prepare anything. I did it off the top of my head.”
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, who is directing Fine Gael’s referendum campaign, said “name-calling” must be avoided during debates.