Saturday 19 January 2019

Fine Gael sexism row is resolved... and then it isn't

Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone. Photo: Tom Burke
Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone. Photo: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

HOPES that a sexism row in Fine Gael was resolved fell apart last night amid fresh rancour. revealed earlier that Senator Catherine Noone was prepared to drop a formal complaint about a male colleague.

The issue was to addressed a meeting of party TDs and senators next week.

However, it has now emerged that the dispute has reignited.

Ms Noone had alleged that a fellow senator repeatedly speaks down to her, dismisses her views and treats her in a misogynistic way.

She told TDs and other senators she felt bullied by the male politician.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he took the allegations very seriously, and party chairman Martin Heydon and general secretary Tom Curran initiated an investigation.

The man accused of the inappropriate behaviour is understood to have disputed much of the allegations.

A number of party sources earlier told the issue has been sorted by mutual agreement.

The formal probe, which involved outside consultants, was due to be called off next week.

It is now unclear whether that this will happen as sources have indicated fresh issues have now arisen.

Fine Gael’s parliamentary party meeting was cancelled on Wednesday due to the weather but It’s believed that had it gone ahead TDs and senators would have been briefed that the issue has been resolved.

One source said Ms Noone was satisfied with the process  but she was unavailable for comment.

The accused senator, who cannot be named for legal reasons, declined to comment when contacted by

Queries submitted to the Fine Gael press office were responded to with a “no comment”.

 Ms Noone is understood to have alleged that some derogatory comments have been directed towards her as a result of her work on the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.

She was the chairperson of the committee which proposed allowing unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

The breakdown in relations between Ms Noone and her colleague peaked at a meeting of Fine Gael senators in recent weeks.

She told party officials that the other senator loudly cut across her during a discussion and refused to let her back in.

Ms Noone said  she felt drowned out and unable to speak by his behaviour.

Ms Noone raised the long-running row - without naming the individual involved - at a private Fine Gael meeting last week, telling colleagues that it had gotten to the point where she “can’t take it anymore”.

In response to her contribution Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he would not “stand over any bullying or sexism towards colleagues”.

At the time a Fine Gael spokesperson confirmed that Mr Heydon has written to general secretary Tom Curran “regarding an internal matter within the party”. A statement said that: “Due process will be followed and the matter will be dealt with swiftly.”

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