Norris quick to voice approval of Higgins

Sat, Oct 1, 2011, 01:00

SUCH TOUCHING scenes in Dublin’s City Hall last Monday night, when David Norris finally secured a place on the ballot paper thanks to the selfless intervention of the saintly Michael D.

Norris was so delighted when he heard on the car radio that Higgins was instructing the council’s majority Labour group not to block his candidature that he told his driver to stop the car, got out on to the side of the road and phoned his rival to express his gratitude.

He was forwarded to voicemail. We’d love to hear that ecstatic message almost as much as the media want to see those clemency letters.

When the two met before the council meeting – Michael D on his way out having done his good deed and David on his way in about to benefit from it – the Trinity Senator was giddy with gratitude.

But then, he has always had a great regard for his fellow academic.

In another fascinating entry in Stephen Costello’s The Irish Soul in Dialogue,Norris talks about his life, loves and spirituality in a deeply personal interview. The book, which attracted a lot of attention when it was published, features interviews with 16 well-known names representing a “cross-section in contemporary Irish culture”. In the course of their discussion, the author asks him who he most admires in Irish political life. David is in no doubt.

“Michael D Higgins here. I mean, he has as silly a voice as I do and he managed to overcome that and become a cabinet minister. You hear him squeaking away.” Indeed, he’s still at it, 10 years on.

So too is David, for that matter, although with considerably less success at the moment than Michael D. In the interview, the Senator is fascinated with how Higgins speaks.

“He wouldn’t get away with it in England. They kicked out Heath because of his laugh.” Where does that leave former taoiseach and Fine Gael leader John Bruton, possessor of the funniest, most terrifying laugh in Irish political history? The Bruton Bray never stopped him from getting elected.

It’s just as well Michael D didn’t remember his former Seanad colleague’s encomium before he gallantly rushed in.

He would have let him stew, this man who admires him most in Irish political life – not for his academic, legislative, humanitarian or poetic achievements, but for his “silly voice”.