David Norris recalls being bullied at boarding school and banned from boxing.

Saint Andrew’s College in Dublin was where Senator David Norris began his education.  Unfortunately his time there was not a happy one.  Things took up when he swapped Saint Andrew’s for The High School, then in Harcourt Street, where he blossomed thanks to the dedication of the teachers, and the absence of corporal punishment,

They had the old Latin idea of ‘educo’, to lead out, to extract, to bring forth from the students a response.

This was a relief from his previous school, where he had been bullied.  Despite having alerted his teachers to what was going on, his side of the story was not believed.  The bullying continued, and on one occasion his bicycle was dismantled.  He decided to escalate his complaint, 

So I just got all the bits, including the particularly greasy chain and dumped them on the headmaster’s desk.

Boxing was an activity permitted on rainy Saturday afternoons during term time.  A self-declared pacifist from an early age, Norris refused to participate.  Forced into it by the teacher, he defended himself with such force that he

Lashed out with a kick which broke the other fellow’s ankle.

Banned from boxing, he was confined to a room on his own to paint.  He put his energy into creating

What TS Elliot would call the objective correlative of my boarding school misery.

His completed work went on to win him first prize in the Royal Drawing Society in London.  

Former president Mary Robinson, a friend from his student days in Trinity College Dublin, was also his lawyer when he took his case to the European Court of Human Rights to decriminalise homosexuality in Ireland. Robinson wanted to revitalise Trinity’s representation in Seanad Éireann, which had been seen as, 

A rather traditional, fusty sort of thing.

She campaigned and won a seat in 1969, and David Norris credits her with putting the thought into his head of running for the Senate himself.  He was elected to Seanad Éireann in 1987.

This episode of ‘Limelight’ was broadcast on 3 December 1998.  The presenter is Carrie Crowley.

‘Limelight’ was a chat show hosted by Carrie Crowley, which also featured bands and performances.  Produced by Maireád Ní Nuadháin, it was first broadcast on 10 September 1998, and ran until March 1999.