Belief the key in Norris Late Late Show

Another Friday night, another distinctly underwhelming set-piece interview on Ireland’s Late Late Show.

The world’s longest-running chat show is in danger of consigning itself to history; in trying to be all things to all men, it will soon mean nothing to anyone.

No doubt the producers wanted David Norris to announce that he was back in the race for Ireland’s presidency, but the Joycean scholar didn’t take that dramatic opportunity.

And given the chance to deeper examine his political credentials, the Late Late let another chance go begging.

Instead, old ground about letters written by Norris and his views on the age of consent was covered, without a single new question being asked or angle being offered.

It’s as if the summer never happened at all.

The line of questioning – which is by no means confined to the Late Late and will no doubt be revisited time and again in the coming weeks – says a lot about the opposition to the Norris candidacy.

But forget the questions about clemency and consent for the moment.

The truly important question we should be asking ourselves is this – what are we being asked to believe about Norris?

There is a red thread running through all the allegations being made against Norris – sex with children.

In short, the Irish electorate is being asked to believe that David Norris agrees with paedophilia.

That Norris should write a letter pleading for clemency for a “former lover” (to use the favoured media phrase) convicted of statutory rape is to be interpreted as Norris condoning his crime.

That Norris should have expressed negative views on the age of consent is to be interpreted selfishly- he doesn’t want an age of consent because he and his cronies want to be free to have sex with children.

The truth – stated and restated by Norris – is that he abhorred the crime of his “former lover”, and indeed all abuse of children.

The truth, in the case of the age of consent, is that he believes that children shouldn’t be criminalised for sexual relations with other children, as is the case at the moment – not that children should be sexually exploited by adults, as is implied by his critics.

Lest we forget, Norris grew up in an era when the practice of his own sexuality was a criminal offence.

That he should have considered these matters and hold opinions that differ from the accepted norm should come as no surprise to anyone.

In the meantime, any discussion of his other political views and achievements is strictly off the agenda, and it is fast becoming too late to bring them up.

As yet, what we think is immaterial. In our democratic and political immaturity, Norris will not be put before us as a candidate until he receives the support of twenty of our supposed democratic betters.

But if he should receive that, we will be essentially asked whether or not we believe that David Norris is a paedophile.

And if we collectively do not believe this to be the case – and it appears that an awful lot of people don’t – he will be elected president of Ireland.