Saturday 23 September 2017

'He should be fired' - Mary Coughlan walks out of live Newstalk show in protest at Hook rape comments

George Hook and singer Mary Coughlan
George Hook and singer Mary Coughlan

Gavin White

Singer Mary Coughlan said her three daughters were behind her decision to walk out of a live Newstalk show in protest at remarks made by host George Hook last week.

Ms Coughlan appeared on 'The Hard Shoulder' with Ivan Yates this evening where she was expected to talk about her upcoming tour.

However she cut the interview short telling Mr Yates that she was unhappy with comments made by Mr Hook on Friday.

She went on to claim that it "wasn't the first time" Mr Hook had made inflammatory comments about women.

Mary Coughlan Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Coughlan Photo: Tony Gavin

Ms Coughlan apologised to Mr Yates, telling him it was nothing personal to him, before walking out of the studio.

The surprise move sparked a reaction on Twitter with many complimenting the singer.

Speaking to Independent.ie this evening Ms Coughlan said her three daughters were behind her encouraging her to stage the protest and that they were “extremely proud of her” after the stand.

“This isn’t the first time Hook has made comments such as these. The comments have absolutely no respect for the victims of abuse in this country,” she said.

“His comments were completely disparaging and there are even some comments in his book which I find similar,” she said.

“He should be fired for god’s sake,” she told Independent.ie.

Ms Coughlan said she was “surprised” he hadn’t been yet, even though a hotel group withdrew their sponsorship of Mr Hook’s show on Newstalk.

Dalata Hotel Group, which owns Clayton Hotels, has cut ties with Hook’s show and Ms Coughlan said “it is only the start” after his “absolutely disgusting comments.”

“I was sitting there before I went on and I was very nervous doing it, but I had the support of my kids behind me.

“The kids, including my three daughters are extremely proud of me for doing this,” she said.

“I just felt out of respect for the many, may women who have been sexually abused or assaulted in this country it had to be done,” she said.

“It’s nothing against Ivan Yates and it’s nothing personal,” she added.

Earlier today Mr Hook began his show by offering a "profound apology" for his comments which sparked a flood of outrage and have cost his show a sponsor.

Speaking today Mr Hook said:

"It was wrong of me to suggest that any blame could be attributed to those victims or that bear any responsibility in the crimes committed against them.

"By doing that I played a part in perpetuating the stigma and I unreservedly apologise for doing so."

Mr Hook's comments arose from an on-going rape trial in the UK. It is alleged that a young woman, who had sex with one member of the UK swim team after meeting him in a bar, was later raped by another man in the same hotel room.

"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," said Mr Hook.

"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."

The comments have been the focus of criticism from survivors of sexual violence and by groups such as the Rape Crisis Centre who have called for media guidelines to be introduced.

Dalata Hotel Group, which owns Clayton Hotels, have cut ties with the show following the comments.

On Sunday night the group issued a tweet in which it said the company would "terminate our commercial relationship" with the station.

Ahead of his show this afternoon Mr Hook said:

"On Friday September 8 I made comments about rape on the program that were totally inappropriate and unacceptable and I should never have made them.

"I realise that those comments caused widespread hurt and offense and for this too I am truly sorry.

"I would particularly like to apologise to all victims of rape, their families, the organisations who work day and night to reduce the stigma around rape and also for those who try and increase reporting of crimes involving  sexual violence against men and women.

"It was wrong of me to suggest that any blame could be attributed to those victims or that bear any responsibility in the crimes committed against them .

"By doing that I played a part in perpetuating the stigma and I unreservedly apologise for doing so.

"Everybody has the right to enjoy themselves without fear of being attacked.

"And as society we have a duty to our daughters and granddaughters to protect that right.

"On Friday I failed in that duty of care, a failure I deeply regret and for which I am truly sorry."

Meanwhile Safe Ireland has commended the Dalata Hotel Group for cutting ties with the show.

Sharon O’Halloran, Chief Executive of Safe Ireland, said that Dalata showed cultural leadership by saying that it could not support hurtful and inappropriate commentary.

She said the continued practice of victim blaming in situations where women are sexually, physically or psychologically abused not just discouraged women from reporting abuse, but minimised the seriousness of the crimes perpetrated against them on a daily basis.

“As long as we blame victims for the horrific crimes that happen to them, we continue to excuse the perpetrators for those criminal actions,” she said.

“George Hook’s comments were insensitive, wrong and horribly out-dated,” she continued.  “What is of real concern, however, is that his comments reflect a pervasive and unacceptable mindset that is still held by a critical mass of Irish people.  We have to challenge this mindset at every opportunity.”

“Dalata has led the way in saying that victims are not the problem and should not be blamed. We commend them for their progressive thinking and leadership.”

  • If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article contact the Rape Crisis Centre on 1800778888 or log onto  their website

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