David Norris calls for peace in Palestine in Seanad retirement speech

The Dublin University senator has retired after 36 consecutive years in the Seanad

Senator David Norris has called for peace in Palestine in his final speech to Seanad Éireann after 36 years in the upper house.

In his final speech to the Seanad yesterday, Norris thanked the “very many graduates” for their consistent support over the years.

“I have tried to represent them to the best of my ability,” he affirmed.

“I would also like to mention all those people who, in the old days, mounted a progress line of people stuffing and folding envelopes, and all that kind of stuff. They were an essential element in the early days.”

Senator Norris also used his final speech to address the ongoing situation in Gaza, saying that he would continue to “advocate for peace” during retirement.

“What is happening to the inhabitants of Gaza is appalling and cannot be allowed to continue. Man’s inhumanity to man is our greatest shame,” he said.

The senator condemned the actions of the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he accused of leading both Israelis and the “unfortunate trapped citizens of Gaza” towards “death”.

“I deplore it completely,” he continued. “It goes completely against the Jewish ethic, which is L’Chaim – to life.”

Senator Norris concluded his speech by declaring his support for the upcoming referendums on the family and the role of women in the home on March 8.

“It is important that they succeed and even though I will be retired, I will be, to the best of my ability, campaigning for their success,” he said.

Provost Linda Doyle paid tribute to Norris yesterday, saying College has been “so proud to call David a ‘Trinity Senator’”.

“What an outstanding contribution he has made to Irish public life,” she said on X (Twitter).

President Michael D Higgins also wrote an open letter to Norris thanking him for his years of service in Seanad Éireann.

“Your legacy as a champion for equality and diversity will continue to inspire future generations to come,” the president wrote.

“May I wish you every happiness in your retirement and fulfilment as you begin this new chapter in your life, one that I hope will include a well-deserved rest in the knowledge that your work has helped make Ireland a better place for all.”

First elected to the Seanad by Trinity graduates in 1987, Norris was reelected as Senator for the University of Dublin constituency at every subsequent election, making him the longest serving Senator in the history of the state.

He studied English Literature in College, where he also formed the Sexual Liberation Movement in 1974, the first formal LGBT rights group in Ireland.

Norris took a human rights case against Ireland to the European Court of Human Rights in 1988, which eventually led to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1993.

Norris first announced his plan to retire in an interview to Trinity News last November, citing the need to “pass on the baton”.

A by-election to fill the vacant seat will be held in the coming months.

Evan Skidmore O’Reilly

Evan Skidmore O’Reilly is News Co-Editor for the 70th volume of Trinity News. He is a former Deputy News Editor, and is a current final year Business and Politics student.