Fine Gael taking Senator Catherine Noone's bullying allegations 'very seriously', says Taoiseach

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted Fine Gael is taking claims from senator Catherine Noone she has been bullied for years by an Seanad party colleague "very seriously" and will take "any necessary action" needed to resolve the dispute, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

Mr Varadkar made the comments as it was confirmed Fine Gael general secretary is to speak with Ms Noone and the other individual involved about the matter before deciding in the coming days on whether it warrants a full investigation.

Speaking during the weekly Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday evening during a debate on the need for more women to enter politics, Ms Noone said such a change would be difficult in the current climate.

Breaking her silence on the issue, she claimed she has been the subject of a bullying campaign by a Seanad party colleague who has made misogynistic remarks about her and sought to undermine her for a number of years.

The claims, which have not been substantiated, led to Mr Varadkar telling Wednesday's behind-closed-doors meeting Fine Gael will not accept any internal bullying and the decision to launch an initial investigation into what is alleged to have happened.

Asked by reporters before an informal meeting of the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, today about what action is now being taken, he said discussions with both individuals have taken place, adding the matter will be addressed and will not be ignored.

"Yes, there's a dispute between two Senators," Mr Varadkar said.

"Senator Noone has made a complaint against another Senator in terms of the way he has spoken to her, and that complaint has been taken very seriously.

"It will be investigated by the party, that will be done swiftly and any necessary action will be taken on foot of that."

The Irish Examiner understands Mr Varadkar spoke with Ms Noone privately about the allegations on Thursday.

In response to the Wednesday parliamentary party revelations, he also asked Fine Gael chair Martin Heydon to contact party secretary general Tom Curran who is currently examining the matter.

Mr Curran is expected to speak with both Ms Noone and her Seanad colleague over the coming days before recommending whether the claims warrant further investigation early next week.

Speaking on RTE Radio's Today With Sean O'Rourke this morning, Mr Heydon said the allegations will be examined in full and will not be avoided by the party.

"First of all, Catherine raised it with me three hours before the parliamentary party meeting, and it was the first time I was made aware of it," he said.

"Within hours, myself and the Taoiseach put in place the procedures and wrote to Tom Curran. It [the initial investigation] will be a matter that will be dealt with within days, not weeks."

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