DUBLIN, August 2, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Despite leading in the polls, homosexual Irish senator David Norris is withdrawing his presidential bid after it was revealed he sought clemency for a former partner convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy.

The revelation dealt a mortal blow to Norris’ campaign, which was also sustained damage when the candidate’s remarks supporting “classical pedophilia” were republished earlier this summer.

Norris had told Magill magazine in a 2002 interview that he does not believe in an age of consent law for sexual activity, remarks the interviewer later called “deeply disturbing.” Norris also reportedly confirmed this belief in a letter to supporters this year. 

Norris’ decision to withdraw was announced today amidst revelations that he had sent a clemency letter to Israeli authorities on behalf of his former homosexual partner, Ezra Yizhak Nawi. Nawi was convicted in an Israeli court in 1997 of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old Palestinian boy.

The Irish Independent reports that Norris continued his relationship with Nawi for four years after his conviction. 

The revelations prompted three members of the Irish Parliament, Finian McGrath, John Halligan and Thomas Pringle, to formally withdraw their support for the Senator. 

“The office of the president must be beyond reproach and so, after consulting with my supporters, I have decided it would be inappropriate of me to support his bid,” said Halligan. 

Two of Norris’ key staff members, director of communications Jane Cregan and director of elections Derek Murphy, also announced their resignation late last week, but declined to say why, according to an Irish Times report.

In a statement this afternoon outside his Dublin home, Norris said he did not regret supporting Nawi but admitted that he now considers himself to have been “wrong.”

“I do not regret supporting and seeking clemency for a friend, but I do regret giving the impression that I did not have sufficient compassion for the victim of Ezra’s crime,” he said.

“I accept that more than a decade and a half later when I have now reviewed the issue, and am not emotionally involved, when I am not afraid that Ezra might take his own life, I see that I was wrong.”

Norris said that “the fall-out from [Nawi’s] disgraceful behaviour has now spread to me and is in danger of contaminating others close to me both in my political and personal life. It is essential that I act decisively now to halt this negative process.”