Hook sus­pen­sion:

Pre­sen­ter taken off air a week af­ter re­marks about Bri­tish rape case Taoiseach says he ‘to­tally dis­agrees with and ab­hors’ Hook’s re­marks

The Irish Times - - Front Page - HUGH LINE­HAN Cul­ture Edi­tor

Sus­pended Newstalk pre­sen­ter Ge­orge Hook may learn his fate next week:

Newstalk hopes to con­clude the process aris­ing from Ge­orge Hook’s con­tro­ver­sial com­ments on rape by next week, fol­low­ing its de­ci­sion to sus­pend the pre­sen­ter.

The ra­dio sta­tion tweeted just af­ter 9am yes­ter­day that Hook had been sus­pended from all du­ties and that the process aris­ing from his com­ments last week about rape and re­spon­si­bil­ity would con­tinue.

On its web­site, the sta­tion, which is part of the De­nis O’Brien-owned Com­mu­ni­corp me­dia com­pany, said the sus­pen­sion came af­ter Hook’s com­ments were con­demned by groups such as the Na­tional Women’s Coun­cil of Ire­land.

Newstalk de­clined to com­ment on the de­tails of the on­go­ing process. Sources in­di­cated the com­pany had wished to im­ple­ment the sus­pen­sion ear­lier in the week, but had not been in a po­si­tion to do so un­til yes­ter­day, fol­low­ing an in­tense process of dis­cus­sions. Newstalk an­tic­i­pates the over­all process will come to a con­clu­sion by next week.

Strongly dis­agreed

Speak­ing yes­ter­day at the Fine Gael think-in in Co Tip­per­ary, Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar said he strongly dis­agreed with the com­ments that Hook had made.

“No­body who is raped or sex­u­ally as­saulted is ever re­spon­si­ble for that in any way,” he told RTÉ’s Morn­ing Ire­land pro­gramme. “So I to­tally dis­agree with and ab­hor the com­ments that he made. He has since then of course apol­o­gised, apol­o­gised pro­fusely and I think he does un­der­stand that what he said about this is­sue and on that oc­ca­sion also in the past is un­ac­cept­able. I think it’s in­dica­tive of at­ti­tudes that still ex­ist in Ir­ish so­ci­ety that need to change.”

On Septem­ber 8th, when re­fer­ring to a UK rape case on his lunchtime show, High Noon, Hook ques­tioned why a woman had gone back to the ho­tel room of a man she had just met, ask­ing: “Is there no blame now to the per­son who puts them­selves in danger?” He later apol­o­gised un­re­servedly for the com­ments.

Re­fusal to go on air

The con­tro­versy es­ca­lated with the with­drawal of ad­ver­tis­ers from High Noon over the course of the week. Tesco con­firmed on Thurs­day evening that it had ceased ad­ver­tis­ing dur­ing the pro­gramme. A num­ber of other ma­jor brands are be­lieved to have taken sim­i­lar ac­tion.

An­other of the sta­tion’s pre­sen­ters, Dil Wick­re­mas­inghe, re­fused to go on air this week­end due to Newstalk’s han­dling of the is­sue, and a let­ter strongly crit­i­cis­ing man­age­ment was signed by up to 20 staff.

Seán Mon­crieff, who presents the af­ter­noon show di­rectly af­ter Hook’s pro­gramme, tweeted that it had been “an in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult week at Newstalk. But I’m im­mensely proud of the pro­fes­sional and brave staff here.”

In Hook’s ab­sence, High Noon was pre­sented yes­ter­day by Ciara Kelly. The sus­pen­sion was not de­bated on any of Newstalk’s pro­grammes over the course of the day, although pre­sen­ter Ivan Yates mounted a de­fence of the sta­tion’s pol­icy on gen­der equal­ity, cit­ing the large num­ber of women who had worked in pro­duc­tion at Newstalk over the years.

Ivan Yates mounted a de­fence of the sta­tion’s pol­icy on gen­der equal­ity

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