Poll candidate ‘sorry’ for calling Irish premier Leo Varadkar ‘autistic’

A candidate in the Irish general election has apologised for calling Taoiseach Leo Varadkar “autistic”.

Fine Gael’s Catherine Noone said she “unequivocally apologise(s) and withdraw all of my remarks”.

She was quoted on The Times Ireland website as saying of Mr Varadkar: “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 in-between bits.”

Mr Varadkar later said he accepted the apology. 

Speaking in Galway on Tuesday morning, he said: “She has withdrawn her remarks and apologised and, you know, that’s good enough for me.

“Well, you know, it’s not about me. I just think that we all need to be very aware… I’m very respectful of people who have autism, people who are on the autism spectrum and we need to understand that those terms should never be used in a pejorative way at all.

“And this is a government that has prioritised autism more than ever before for special needs assistance. I set aside two million this year for an autism awareness campaign to educate the public better about understanding the autism spectrum.”

When asked if Ms Noone would face any sanction from the party over her comments, Mr Varadkar said: “She has apologised and withdrawn remarks and that’s good enough for me.”

Ireland votes on February 8.


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