Further to the suspension of George Hook from Newstalk…
Tom Lyons, Deputy Editor of the Sunday Business Post, was Business Editor at Newstalk in 2006 and 2007.
In yesterday’s paper, Mr Lyons wrote:
My own experience is this: in 2007, Hook banned me from appearing on his programme for having the effrontery to want to break a story. My mistake was to insist he aired extracts from a fascinating speech made by the country’s then richest man, Seán Quinn, about his life and times.
Hook declined. He is entitled to put out whatever he likes, but I would have been remiss as business editor not to try and get an exclusive story on air.
Hook never explained to me why he didn’t like the story, but I knew it would make page one of the papers the following day and that we were ahead of RTÉ.
My instructions from Newstalk, and directly from [Denis] O’Brien, were to break stories and I knew this was a good one.
Eventually Harte managed to get the story on air for a few minutes. Hook was professional on air but he was clearly furious.
Afterwards Harte informed me I was banned from the station’s most listened-to show. When I protested that this was unfair, he told me he was sorry but: “George is George.” I never appeared on The Right Hook again.
Like many I was appalled and disgusted by the comments made by George Hook on his show on Newstalk last Friday.
He unequivocally said that the rape victim in the UK rape case was partly to blame for her own rape.
My immediate reaction was this time he was gone too far and surely the station will react appropriately and at the very least suspend him immediately from the airwaves until a decision is made regarding his future.
Like many other survivors of sexual abuse and violence I didn’t report it or seek support sooner because I thought it was my fault. I actually believed until I was well into my 30s that, at the tender age of 13, I was to blame that my first sexual experience was with a 70-year-old man.
Victim blaming is unacceptable, irresponsible and dangerous. I am deeply disappointed that so far, the only action there has been to address the hurt and distress caused by the comments has been an apology by George Hook and Newstalk.
In my opinion, this does not go far enough, particularly as this is not the first time it has happened. I felt compelled to voice my discontent to management and conveyed to them that I didn’t feel I could share the same airwaves with George Hook until a formal disciplinary action was taken.
Like many of my colleagues I felt, as a station, we need to take a strong stance to show that we have a social conscience and do not condone victim blaming.
For the last decade I have worked extremely hard to create the Global Village show and endeavoured to create a unique radio programme that sheds light on social justice and mental health issues by speaking to the people affected by the issues to raise awareness.
I have always regarded my work on Global Village more than just a job but my own civic duty to spark positive social change one conversation at at time.
Although I enjoy my work as a broadcaster immensely and have some incredible colleagues at Newstalk, I have been deeply unsatisfied with the management of Newstalkas I felt the station has been unsupportive and unwelcoming of female presenters. It is common knowledge that insufficient effort has been made over the years to address the lack of female representation during prime time.
As a result, female presenters are segregated to the weekend schedule. I believe this culture is connected to George Hook’s comments.
I feel unable to share the airwaves with an individual who has no regard for the duty of care we have to the public and as such will not be presenting Global Village this weekend and management understand my position. Most importantly it is my duty as a parent to my two-year-old son Phoenix and four-week-old daughter Xavier to act and be the change I want to see in the world.
I am heartened that there has been a public outrage and Newstalk have launched a full investigation on this matter which I hope will conclude within the next few days so that I can return to presenting Global Village on Saturday, 23rd September.
Newstalk’s Global Village Dil Wickremasinghe released the above statement last night, before Newstalk announced this morning that George Hook has been suspended.
Newstalk has confirmed that George Hook has been suspended from his duties at the station. The process regarding his comments last week is ongoing. It came after the comments were condemned by groups such as the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI). On Monday, George Hook offered a “profound apology” for his recent comments about rape. Newstalk last week issued an unreserved apology for the comments. Managing Editor Patricia Monahan said that comments made were “totally wrong and inappropriate and should never have been made.”
The controversy over comments about rape made on Friday by the Newstalk presenter George Hook took an unexpected turn yesterday when the station began a fightback against its critics.
The radio station has decided not to use any contributors from The Irish Times in response to an article by the newspaper’s columnist Fintan O’Toole. On Tuesday O’Toole wrote that he would not appear on Newstalk again, describing it as “flagrantly sexist”.
Although there was no official statement to The Irish Times from the Communicorp-owned station, the ban was acknowledged by a source at the paper and Newstalk producers have been informed. A spokeswoman for the station could not be reached for comment.
Views, behaviours and individuals that contravened the moral hegemony of 1930s, 1940s and 1950s Catholic Ireland were publicly shamed, silenced and cast out by the thought police of the time. Abhorrent views were censured, stymieing intellectual and social development for decades.
Ireland is, thankfully, a different place now. Some would say our treatment of women has changed radically, but have our underlying social and political attitudes changed so much?
Today’s thought police see themselves as very different to those of 70 years ago. Their agenda is freedom and safety for women and girls.
However, the abhorrent and deeply damaging views of women and girls, articulated by Hook, teenage boys, and our Constitution alike, must be heard. They must be challenged. They must be changed. Simply silencing them will not achieve the safe, free world we want for our daughters.
“We the undersigned wish to express our utter repudiation of the views expressed by George Hook on High Noon last Friday.
We also wish to express our profound disappointment with management in Communicorp at their failure to deal with this issue swiftly and decisively.
The longer George Hook remains on air, the more reputational damage this station will suffer: damage that will unfairly reflect on the hardworking and professional staff at Newstalk.
Misogyny should never be normalised, and we call upon management at Communicorp to defend the reputation of the station and the reputation of the staff at Newstalk by removing Mr Hook.”
The text of a letter signed by ‘up to 20 members of staff’ at Newstalk
Sharon O’Halloran, CEO of Safe Ireland, which works with women and children affected by domestic violence, told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland:
“George Hook doesn’t stand alone in his opinions and what we have in this country is about 10% of women who experience sexual violence are reporting it so they’re afraid to come forward because they feel that they won’t be believed or that their needs won’t be met when they do that so we have a problem and, you know, George Hook doesn’t stand alone in this and we have to work much harder to change culture in this country to address this issue.
I think you can hear over the comment the last week, since this story broke in the first place, there’s a lot of people, you know, agreeing with George Hook, but I think what I want to say is, there’s an awful lot of people that don’t agree with George Hook. And what I can see is change has already happened in this country.
Ten years ago, if George Hook made these comments, there probably wouldn’t be any reaction at all. Today there’s huge reaction.
“There’s a huge mass of people saying ‘this is unacceptable, we don’t want this on our watch’. We want to ensure that there is not victim blaming in this country and that we take the issues of rape and sexual assault seriously.
So this is hopeful, that doesn’t mean that we haven’t got an awful lot more to do. We do and we need leadership around this.
And I do commend the Dalata Hotel Group for actually taking that leadership.
“It’s leadership like that that enables the rest of us to have the courage to stay with saying ‘this is unacceptable and not on our watch’.
“And there are other sponsors as well, on Newstalk, that really need to reflect on where they’re at in this position and it would do them no harm to act with the Dalata Group and stand for what they want to see in society which is a society that is safe for women and children.
His apology is welcome but, you know, you could ask if it’s too late. I mean I do think that it’s coming to a point where I think his position is untenable within Newstalk.
But that’s, also, within Newstalk, in terms of their own leadership around this issue, have a lot to answer for.
They’re a news station that from 7am to 7pm in the day have no female voices on the radio. So in terms of leadership and in terms around equality and human rights, I think they have a few questions to answer themselves.
So I do welcome his apology but, you know, there’s been damage done as a result of a key leader on a national broadcast saying what he did say last Friday.”