Monday 19 March 2018

'I had to take a stand - I did it for women, and men, everywhere' - Mary Coughlan on walking out of Newstalk interview

The singer walked out of Ivan Yates' show in protest at George Hook's comments on rape

Mary Coughlan on the beach in Bray. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Coughlan on the beach in Bray. Photo: Tony Gavin
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Singer Mary Coughlan has said she walked out on Ivan Yates' Newstalk show to "take a stand" for women and men who have been raped and abused.

Ms Coughlan was due to appear on 'The Hard Shoulder' on Monday evening to talk about her upcoming tour but she cut the interview short because, she said, she was unhappy with comments about rape made by George Hook on his show last Friday.

Speaking on TV3's Elaine show on Tuesday the singer, who was abused as a minor, revealed that she felt the abuse "was my fault".

She added, "That is why I felt it so personally.  I had to take a stand and the only way I felt I could do that was, out of respect to all the women and men who have been raped, abused physically and sexually, was to say absolutely nothing.

"That was my policy - not to talk on Newstalk."

Many people voiced their support for the singer online and she revealed that she had over 400 letters and comments from men and women, the vast majority of which were supportive.

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

"I had letters from women how have been raped," she said.  "A lot of women are afraid to go forward to the guards, afraid of this kind of stuff going on, which has been going on for years.  It's about time it all came back into the public domain, this conversation about rape and men feeling they can talk about women in this way and they have an absolute right."

She added, "Some [women are] awaiting court cases.  Some don't want to go public because of the abuse they'll get from their communities.  I had 400 letters and they just wanted to say thanks.  They felt a little bit more empowered [after her walk out].

"I did it for women everywhere, and men.  They're afraid of what happens when it goes to court, that it gets thrown out, the guy gets a nine month sentence reduced to whatever.  It's a huge conversation that has to start and George Hook started it last week with - again - derogatory and negative remarks about women."

Speaking about reaction online, she added, "Some men and some women but men in particular I've noticed on the website yesterday feel it is their absolute right that if a woman goes back to your place and you have a few drinks that it's their God given right and you're doing it for one reason and one reason only."

Mary revealed that it took courage to take a stand on live radio.

"My daughter was saying to me, 'Go on mam' and I was saying, 'I can't do it.  I'm so nervous'.  I was sitting in the station at that stage.  She said, 'You have to do it.  Think about all the women.'"

Speaking to Ms Coughlan said her three daughters were "extremely proud" of her after she took a stand.  She also called for Hook to be fired.

Since Friday Dalata Hotel Group, which owns Clayton Hotels, has cut ties with Hook's show.

Hook offered a "profound apology" for his comments on his show on Monday.

"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," he said.

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

  • 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

Read more: BAI registers eight complaints against Newstalk after George Hook's comments about rape

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

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