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Simon Coveney apologises for Noone's comments: 'They were offensive, ignorant and wrong'

Noone is now writing to autism support organisations.

Image: Sam Boal

TÁNAISTE SIMON COVENEY has said the comments made by Senator Catherine Noone about the Taoiseach were “offensive, ignorant and wrong”.

Speaking to reporters today, he apologised on behalf of the party, stating: 

“They caused offensive to many people. She has apologised for those comments and I know she hopes that the families offended by them will accept that apology,” he said.

He added:

“This should not have happened. As deputy party leader I want to apologise for the fact that it happened. The apology is very sincere and comments like that type are not acceptable.

“I hope we can put that issue to bed.”

Noone has apologised for remarks she made about the Taoiseach, after it was reported she said Leo Varadkar was “autistic”, “on the spectrum” and that he “doesn’t know what to do with himself” in social situations.

The Times, Ireland Edition, first reported the senator’s comments, which she made while canvassing in her Dublin Bay North constituency.

“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 said.

If I do say so, I am much more natural than he would be. I’ve been in rooms with him and he doesn’t know what to do with himself. He’s naturally shy. But he’s actually a very good politician.

Noone was also quoted as saying he is a “very good politician”, but is “a bit wooden”.

When contacted by The Times about her remarks, she initially denied using the word “autistic” but she was informed there was a recording. She then said she did not mean the word literally.

“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 said. “I shouldn’t have even said it in that way.”

Noone later released a statement apologising and withdrawing her comments:

“I unequivocally apologise and withdraw all of my remarks, as reported by TheTimes.ie, which were completely unacceptable,” she said.

My choice of language was inexcusable and wrong. I am truly sorry. I will not be making any further comment.

The Times also reports that Noone gave it examples of potentially offensive words that could be used out of context, such as “special” and “n***er”. However she clarified that she would never use the N word.

Coveney told the media today that Noone is writing to support organisations and the families concerned in an attempt to ”reinforce” her apology. 

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