Not Literally [Updated]



News editor at the Times Ireland edition Ben Haugh, who clarified the conversation with Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone – in which she referred to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as “autistic” – before going to print, just spoke to Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One about the article.

He explained that Ms Noone knew she was being recorded when she made the comments to reporter Brian Mahon while he was walking with her between houses during a canvass last Friday.

Mr Haugh said Mr Mahon was upfront with Ms Noone that he was recording the conversation and was using a dictaphone app on his iPhone in order to quote Ms Noone accurately.


Fiona Ferris, deputy head of AsIAm, an autism charity and advocacy group, told Mr O’Rourke that the charity will not be accepting Ms Noone’s apology.

Asked what more Ms Noone can do or say, in light of the group’s refusal of her apology, Ms Ferris said:

“I would say that what she needs to do is take action based on what she said and the inaccuracy of it and you know, she should be trying to take the steps to educate herself about what autism is. But I would also be encouraging people who have candidates who come to their doors to be asking about, you know, what is in their manifesto to contribute towards further support and further understanding of autism.”

Listen back in full here


From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Senator Catherine Noone; statement from Ms Noone this morning

This morning.

In The Times Ireland edition.

Ben Haugh and Brian Mahon report that Fine Gael senator Catherine Noone described Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as “autistic” while she was being asked about his performance on the Virgin Media One head-to-head debate with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin last week.

Ms Noone has since apologised and withdrawn her comments (see statement above).

They report:

Ms Noone described Mr Varadkar as a “very good politician” but accepted that he was “a bit wooden” and was making efforts to improve.

“He’s autistic like, he’s on the spectrum, there’s no doubt about it. He’s uncomfortable socially and he doesn’t always get the inbetween bits,” she added.

She said the Fine Gael leader was “extremely bright” and a “very decent guy”.

They added:

…When contacted by The Times for clarification yesterday, Ms Noone initially denied that she used the word “autistic”. When informed that the reporter had a recording, she said she did not mean the word literally.

….Ms Noone then attempted to give examples of potentially offensive words that could be used out of context, such as “special” and “n***er”. She quickly clarified that she would never use the N word, and said that it was a bad example.

Good times.

Election 2020: Varadkar ‘autistic’, said his senator Catherine Noone (Ben Haugh and Brian Mahon, The Times Ireland edition)

Statement pic via Gavan Reilly


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41 thoughts on “Not Literally [Updated]

    1. Otis Blue

      It really takes a special type of ineptitude to rehabilitate the fetid corpse of Fianna Fáil. But here we are.

      Eh, thanks blushirts.

    2. D

      actually you know what, I hadn’t thought of that
      what do they know that i don’t?
      that was a rhetorical question – do not answer it.
      I would probably rather not know.

  1. Baz

    “I didn’t mean it in the sense of the actual illness or anything. I just mean he can be a bit wooden and lacking in empathy,” She compared her use of the word ‘autistic’ to other words she claims are used out of context, such as ‘special’ and ‘n***er’

    bye bye No one

  2. Friscondo

    As she desperately tries to salvage this disaster, she suddenly thinks, “I know! I’ll introduce the N word. That should do it.” Astonishing.

  3. Spaghetti Hoop

    Unbelievable. I’m pleased to see that AsIAm haven’t accepted her general apology but suggested an educational plan for her.

  4. Guess what

    Haugh’s previous employers, the Irish Daily Mail, was known for using secret recordings of unsuspecting dupes.

    I wonder if it iis true what they say and old habits do die hard…

  5. george

    Please don’t reproduce “n***er”. This looks like irresponsible journalism for the Times. It is most likely that she said “nutter”. Catherine Noone may have grounds to sue as this makes her look racist.

    1. george

      Turns out I was wrong. She did not say nutter. I assumed that was it from the context and lack of reaction to her use of a racial slur.

      I don’t know why she seems to be getting a free pass on suggesting that the n-word was sometimes taken out of context. The media prefer the story to be about her making an embarrassing comment about the Taoiseach…

  6. GiggidyGoo

    “I will not be making any further comment”
    She thinks that is the end of it then? That she controls the discussion?

    1. Cian

      Anyone is entitled to say they are not making further comment. That isn’t controlling the whole discussion – just her part in it.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        Trying to control her part in the discussion means controlling the discussion. From the story above, she’s said this on more than one occasion, so she’s a bit more to answer for that trying to control what she explains or not.

  7. Dr.Fart

    she has form with this. she was in the news not so long ago for calling people “knackers” and saying a nightclub somewhere was full of sluts. everyone in FG has at least one outlandish flaw that shows they shouldn’t be public representatives, but none of them think they’re flawed, instead they think it’s the people questioning them who are the problem.

  8. DOC

    Now Catherine
    What is it with TD’s in FG?
    And that is just the Females
    Never a dull moment

  9. 01101101 01100011

    I’ve another take on all this

    what if this is a FG ploy to garner sympathy for Varadker? like some sort of manipulative teenager might try on when in a corner (but as a parent you’d see through it real fast)

    last week on the “debate” with Martin it was the classic Empathy play…having a go at explaining his way out of his cold personality deficit (like, I do really care about poor people but sometimes I just can’t find the words type nonsense….his heroic partner Matt fielding poor Leos woes at night about how he wishes he could make the country great for everyone including poor people)

    now as the popularity slide continues there’s this autism pip out of nowhere inserted into the narrative

    Varadker has an issue alright but it certainly isn’t autism or anything like it

    I call bullsht

  10. Clampers Outside

    That last bit is classic “if you’re explaining, you’re losing”… and talk about digging a hole for yourself :0)
    Is there no PR suit shouting… “STOP, just STOP!”

    lovin’ it all the same :)

Comments are closed.

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