Person 1: Who is this Catherine Noone?
Person 2: Catherine No one? Are you trying to be funny?
Person1: Look, this is a conversation, not a written exchange. In writing you might mistake Noone for No One. In a conversation such as this, it’s impossible. So – I repeat: who is this Catherine Noone?
Person 2: She was a Fine Gael Senator, is now running for a Fine Gael seat in the election. Her running mate is Richard Bruton, who is the ex-Taoiseach John Bruton’s brother.
Person 1: So she’s deeply imbedded in the party. But what was it she said that has her the talk of the country?
Person 2: Ah yes – I see what you’re getting at. She said “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 was speaking of Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach and her party leader.
Person 1: Cripes. And holy shit.
Person 2: Indeed. And she addressed the remarks to a newspaper reporter for the Times.
Person 1: Cripes X 2 and double holy shit. Was she confronted with her words?
Person 2: She was, and she denied she’d used the word ‘autistic’. Then someone produced a recording of her using it and she said she had misspoke. “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.”
Person 1: She sounds a right eejit. What did Leo have to say?
Person 2: He said her apology was good enough for him, she wouldn’t be sanctioned.
Person 1: That’s nice. So she’s a free woman, so to speak.
Person 2: Not exactly. She wanted to go on TV and do an interview, explaining that she wasn’t saying anything bad about Leo or autism as a condition or anything.
Person 1: Was this a good idea?
Person 2: Fine Gael think not. They did a mock interview with her and decided she would say it best if she said nothing at all.
Person 1: Isn’t that a song?
Person 2: It is indeed.
Person 1: Is Leo a bit wooden and lacking in empathy?
Person 2: Yes and no. He is a bit wooden but no, I don’t think he lacks empathy. But I suspect he’s not dying about Catherine Noone.
Person 1: What about Richard Bruton? How’s he taking the words of his running mate?
Person 2: Hard to tell. At first the party announced that they were ‘pausing’ the plan for strategic voting, where some Fine Gael voters would be urged to give first preference to Richard and some to give first preference to Catherine. But they’ve changed their minds and now the pact between the two is back on the menu. Nothing to see here, move along.
Person 1: What kind of head-banger would say such a thing? And to a journalist? And then deny having said it? And then say she was so so so so sorry when they produced the recording? What does she do when she’s not being a Senator or an election candidate?
Person 2: I understand she’s a lawyer.
Person 1: That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day. A lawyer!
Person 2: And her mother is a psychiatrist.
Person 1: My God. You couldn’t make it up.
Person 2: The Fine Gael party wish she hadn’t.
Person 1: And Fine Gael thought they’d problems with that three-second pause before Leo confessed to taking illegal drugs once when he was a slip of a lad. They’re not having a very good election, are they?Which would be good news, except that…
Person 2: Exactly. Except that Micheál Martin may well benefit from Fine Gael’s clustermuck.
Person 1: Ah here – you’re depressing me.
Person 2: I can recommend a psychiatrist if you like.