Saturday 21 October 2017

'We cannot support any radio station that allows hurtful comments to be made' - Clayton Hotel ends George Hook sponsorship

George Hook
George Hook
'Truly sorry': Newstalk show host George Hook Photo: David Conachy

Rebecca Lumley and Catherine Devine

Tweets from the official account owned by Dalata - the company who owns the Clayton Hotel - confirmed that the group will end its contract with Newstalk following comments made by George Hook on his radio programme.

Dalata tweeted that it will be "engaging with Newstalk as soon as possible to terminate our commercial relationship," as a result of comments made by Mr Hook on his High Noon show.

Mr Hook has apologised for the comments he made in which he questioned the "responsibility of women" when discussing the case of a 19-year-old woman in the UK who alleges she was raped by a member of the British swimteam when she had gone back to a hotel room with his friend.

The young woman alleges that she was raped by the swimmer when he entered her room after she had consensual sex with his friend.

Dalata said it "cannot support any radio station that allows inappropriate [and] hurtful comments to be made," in a tweet sent from its official account.

Pat McCann, Chief Executive of Dalata, hit out at the High Noon host yesterday.

Speaking to the Sunday Business Post, he said: "George Hook is fundamentally out of touch with reality. I am the father of two daughters and I find those types of comments totally unacceptable.

“This contract is up for renewal in October and this will bring into focus whether we will continue to sponsor the programme.”

Director of the National Women’s Council, Orla O’Connor urged Newstalk to take action following the scandal.

Hook yesterday apologised for the comments made on Friday, saying he wanted to “apologise unreservedly."

Mr Hook's comments on Friday attracted a major backlash.

When discussing the rape case, he said: "She was passed around went the story apparently. She went to bed with one guy and he went out and another guy comes in. She doesn't want to have relations with the second guy but he forced himself upon her. Awful," he said.

"But when you then look deeper into the story you have to ask certain questions. Why does a girl who just meets a fella in a bar go back to a hotel room? She's only just barely met him. She has no idea of his health conditions, she has no idea who he is, no idea what dangers he might pose.

“But is there no blame now to the person who puts themselves in danger? You then of course read that she passed out on the toilet and when she woke up the guy was trying to rape her. There is personal responsibility because it's your daughter and my daughter.”

Rape victim, Fiona Doyle, told Independent.ie on Friday that Mr Hook's comments were "outrageous" and "offensive".

Fiona's father Patrick O'Brien (79) was sentenced to 12 years in prison with three suspended in 2013 for the systematic rape and sexual abuse of his daughter at their home in Dun Laoghaire from 1973 to 1982.

"Victim blaming is all too familiar to women in Ireland. George is giving the message that men can do what they want and it is the drunken woman who is to blame.

"Women have the right to be drunk. They have the right to say no. They have the right to walk down the street naked if they wish. Men have no right to rape a women and people like George Hook need to stop circulating the message that women are to blame.

"What George said is that a man can't help himself if he comes across a drunk woman. It takes the responsibility off men. Men should know not to touch a woman."

Fiona said that the comments broadcast earlier today were "old fashioned" and that it brings women back centuries.

"George Hook needs to get off his dinosaur backside and see the impact of what he is saying on young women."

She added that campaigners, gardai and the rape crisis centres have been working with women to get them to come forward after a rape.

"We're working so hard to get women to stand up and come forward without thinking they are responsible.

"It's a big thing for women to blame themselves after a rape happens. It's very hard for women to get over something like that and to tell women that it's their fault is outrageous."

Fiona said that George Hook's comments will "pull out that stigma that women are responsible".

"No man has a right to touch a women. It's that simple."

A spokesperson for Dalata told Independent.ie that the company did not have any further comment to make post their twitter comment.

If you have been affected by this issue you can contact the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 778 888

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