Monday 20 November 2017

'My golf handicap will drop while I'm off' - George Hook makes first public appearance since controversy

George Hook at a protest at Leinster House. Photo: Collins
George Hook at a protest at Leinster House. Photo: Collins
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Broadcaster George Hook has said he is "confident" that his golf handicap will drop during his three months off air.

The Newstalk host made his first public appearance yesterday since controversy erupted over comments he made concerning a rape case in the UK. Mr Hook joined protesters outside Leinster House to raise awareness for Lyme disease. He said: "There was nothing that was going to stop me being here."

The 76-year-old has lost his lunchtime slot but is to be given a weekend show next December. "We'll face December when December comes," he told TV3, adding: "I'm confident and expecting a reduction in my golf handicap."

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Last week Newstalk confirmed his three month hiatus but declined to say if his move from a weekday, prime-time slot to a weekend, morning show in December will affect the his salary.

The station was also keeping tight-lipped on whether he would be paid for the three months he will be off-air and if any disciplinary action has been taken as a result of his inflammatory remarks.

The scandal erupted after Mr Hook made comments on his show while he discussed the case of a woman (19), who alleges she was raped by a former member of the British swim team.

"Is there no blame to the person who puts themselves in danger?" he asked.

Four days later, singer Mary Coughlan walked out of the Newstalk studio mid-interview in protest. The singer said her three daughters were behind her decision to walk out in protest at the remarks made by Mr Hook.

That same week, Newstalk presenter Dil Wickremasinghe said she would not host her show this weekend in protest at the comments and the alleged failure by management to act in the case.

She accused bosses of being "unsupportive and unwelcoming" of female presenters.

Before being taken off the air, Mr Hook issued an unreserved apology.

"I made comments about rape on the programme that were totally inappropriate and unacceptable and I should never have made them," he said.

Pat Kenny later defended his Newstalk colleague, describing him as "a decent man" who is "genuinely contrite". 

Mr Kenny said: "I listened to his apology and he meant it, he is genuinely contrite. He is devastated by this. He realises what he said didn't come out right and accepts that some people were hurt."

An "internal process" was conducted by station bosses in the wake of the scandal but the results of it have not been made public.

Irish Independent

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