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Darragh McManus on radio: Low Noone for Catherine after calamitous gaffe



Catherine Noone. Photo: Douglas O’Connor

Catherine Noone. Photo: Douglas O’Connor

Catherine Noone. Photo: Douglas O’Connor

Election 2020 finally delivered its first real controversy, in Catherine Noone's by-now notorious "autistic" comments about her party leader Leo Varadkar. Whether it will have any bearing on the actual result seems unlikely, but it certainly caused a kerfuffle across radio, distracting us from the more important but - let's face it - less interesting raft of policy manifestos which were announced this week.

Politics writer Lise Hand described Noone's gaffe as "a calamity" on The Last Word (Today FM, Mon-Fri 4.30pm), and went on: "Rather damningly, when these remarks were put to her, she flatly denied it… a stance which disappeared as soon as it was pointed out that the remarks had actually been recorded."

Noone "unequivocally apologised" for her comments, as heard on Today with Sean O'Rourke (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 10am). Fiona Ferris, deputy CEO of an autism support service AsIAm, described the senator's language as "quite shocking and completely unacceptable" - and didn't accept Noone's apology. "This kind of stigma sticks," she added.

Incidents or gaffes such as this are of course exaggerated, in terms of damage, by the modern-day ubiquity of social media. A bad news story spreads across the internet like wildfire, and often, there's no putting it out once the spark has been lit.

Drivetime (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 4.30pm) discussed the election on Twitter, Facebook and all the rest with Stephen O'Leary of Olytico, a company which analyses online news and social media.

Since the election was called, he said (speaking midweek), there have been 125,000 tweets published on the topic, the majority of those under the #GE2020 hashtag. The big debates - "those major moments on TV" - are, Stephen said, "what drives conversation online". How multimedia metatextual: a man on radio talking about how TV shows are being discussed on the internet.

Interestingly, the most-shared tweets "show the power of traditional media to create content that is then shared and goes viral on social"; in this case, an interview with actor Emmet Kirwan on The Late Late Show, who made the memorable statement that "it wasn't blokes in tracksuits who ruined the country, it was blokes in suits".

Informative and enjoyable stuff, and I'm also enjoying The Hard Shoulder's (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 4pm) daily 'Calling It' slot, wherein Ivan Yates and political correspondent Gavan Reilly go through the election, constituency by constituency, and Ivan predicts who'll win.

He's confident in his assertions, in that entertainingly strident Yates way, and in fairness, there's very little "ooh, it's hard to say how this one will go" fence-sitting: he names the candidates he thinks are going to take the day, and explains why he thinks it.

Indo Review