David Norris is one of Ireland’s most popular, colourful and charismatic public figures. Not a man to shy away from controversy, he has spent most of his adult life challenging the establishment, whether as a leading campaigner for gay rights, a passionate conservationist, an unconventional academic and Joycean scholar, a brilliant raconteur, or, since 1987, a fiercely independent Senator and outspoken defender of human rights.
Born in the Belgian Congo to an English father, who died when he was six years old, and an Irish mother, who died when he was twenty-one, David has been a Dubliner all his life, and the city of Ulysses remains one of his great passions. He spear-headed the revival of Georgian Dublin, particularly through his campaign to save North Great George’s Street, where he has lived for the last thirty-five years.
But it is David Norris’s campaign to decriminalize homosexuality that will stand as his major legacy. Over a long sixteen years, he fought a difficult battle to overturn the Victorian law, finally winning a historic victory in the European Court of Human Rights in 1988.
David’s decision to run for President of Ireland in 2011 was not lightly taken, but it proved to be the most bruising period of his life. His popularity and the public affection in which he is held saw him quickly established as the front-runner. However, a sustained and hostile media campaign forced him out of the race; although he re-entered it in the autumn, the momentum had been lost. In these pages, David Norris reveals for the first time the full, no-holds-barred story of his presidential campaign, and of how he recovered from the turmoil.
A Kick Against the Pricks is a brilliant, deeply revealing autobiography, a remarkable journey from the margins to the centre of Irish society.
Norris has added immeasurably to our public life. … Norris's memoir is excellent … He gives us a complete picture, in a fluent and highly readable account. … raises important questions, such as the power of the media … The good senator is redeemed by his bravery and wit.
Norris emerges in these pages as a figure who feels a passionate engagement with the world and is in possession of great moral seriousness. He is also very funny. … A Kick Against the Pricks is more than the account of an interesting life well lived. … He wishes to speak up for the idea of a life led by conscience, a life that made a difference to the world. … His autobiography is …a way of suggesting and evoking what a lone voice can do by remaining fearless and dutiful, by speaking up again and again, by learning to fail better, by losing neither a sense of humour nor a sense of purpose nor the skill, displayed with relish in this book, of taking real pleasure from life.
Much like the man himself, it’s a witty, erudite, entertaining and provocative read.