Saturday 24 August 2019

Mary walks out of radio interview


Singer Mary Coughlan.
Singer Mary Coughlan.

Mary Fogarty

Singer Mary Coughlan said that she knew in her heart that walking out of a live radio interview on Monday was 'the right thing to do'.

She left the interview with Ivan Yates on Monday evening, in protest at comments about rape made by George Hook the previous Friday.

Mary, who lives in Kilmacanogue, expressed reservations about appearing on the Newstalk show 'The Hard Shoulder' at all in advance of the broadcast. She was to appear on the programme to talk about her forthcoming tour.

She struggled with her decision. 'I nearly did bottle it,' she said. However, with the encouragement of her family, Mary made her on-air protest.

'They are condoning his (Hook's) behaviour allowing him stay on air,' she said yesterday.

Mary told Yates she would not be continuing with the interview because of Hook's remarks.

She said that it 'wasn't the first time' George Hook had made comments about women. She apologised to Ivan, saying that it was nothing personal to him, before leaving the studio.

'I talked to my kids about it,' said Mary yesterday. 'I made a silent protest. I got up and I walked out. The station's policy has vindicated what George Hook said. He has been taken to task numerous times and they have let him get away with it. It didn't matter whose show it was.'

Mary said that since the broadcast she had received some 'really heartbreaking' emails and messages.

'These were from women who have been raped and are afraid to come forward because of stuff like this,' she said.

When asked what she thought of an apology subsequently released by George Hook, she simply said: 'F**k the apology. This has been going on forever. Women have been regarded as possessions going back to Babylonian times. It's not a man's right to do that to anyone - a woman, a man or a child. But it's still continuing and Newstalk actually condone that behaviour when they do not sanction George Hook.

Hook's comments were met with outrage last week. While the broadcaster was discussing a UK rape case in which it was alleged that a woman who had sex with a 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?' asked Mr Hook. '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 modern day social activity means that she goes back with him. Then is surprised when somebody else comes into the room and rapes her. Should she be raped? Course she shouldn't. Is she entitled to say no? Absolutely. Is the guy who came in a scumbag? Certainly. Should he go to jail? Of Course. All of those things. 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 is among those to have criticized what Hook said.

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

'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,' said Fiona.

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

The presenter and the radio station have issued apologies in the wake of the controversy. Dalata Hotel Group, which owns Clayton Hotels, has issued a tweet in which it said the company would 'terminate our commercial relationship' with the station.

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

Bray People