'George, you're the criminal' - Matt Cooper slams Newstalk's George Hook on Ireland AM

Credit: Ireland AM

Louise Kelly

It was the battle of the broadcasters this morning as Matt Cooper and George Hook went head to head on the topic of fixed penalties for cyclists.

Outspoken Newstalk presenter Hook (72) admitted that the last time he was actually on a bike was "the day John F Kennedy died" in 1963.

"I hate cyclists with a passion... I hate criminals... [cyclists] break the law routinely, they do what the hell they like," he said on Ireland AM this morning.

"They're a threat to themselves , they're a threat to pedestrians - and ultimately they're a threat to motorcars as motorcars trying to avoid these lunatics will have an accident."

When questioned on his "sweeping generalisation" by the show's presenters Mark Cagney and Sinead Desmond, Hook defended his argument saying the actions of cyclists are "outrageous".

Yet, his Today FM counterpart Matt Cooper (49) took more offence to Hook's "criminals" comments by retorting: "George, you're the criminal. You've a string of road traffic convictions".

"I found three last night when I was searching on the internet for a short period of time. There was a judge who said you were close to being a "serial" road traffic offender," he said.

As the pair continued to argue, the TV3 show's presenters stepped in to smooth things over and get back to the central point of the interview.

Hook proved somewhat more difficult to quieten down as Mark Cagney slapped him on his "bad knee" and told him to "shush".

Meanwhile, Cooper attempted to address the safety issues affecting cyclists as motorists impinge on cycle lanes and drive too close to them, causing them to mount the footpaths to avoid the traffic.

"I'm not condoning [cyclists breaking rules] in any way. But I'm not sure the [new fines] are going to be enforced any differently," he said.

Hook refused to budge, though, as he said he looked forward to standing in the way of footpath using cyclists " until a garda comes along to give them a fixed penalty fine".

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe’s announced yesterday that there will be fixed charge notice system for cyclists.

Gardai will be allowed impose fines of up to €40 for cyclists who commit one of seven offences and the rules come into force from July 31 next.