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Monday 25 September 2017

Seoige gives right hook to George over 'ignorant' rape comments

George Hook. Photo: Mark Condren
George Hook. Photo: Mark Condren

Former Newstalk presenter Sile Seoige has said she feels it was "correct" to suspend George Hook, adding it was time to stop moving female hosts to "graveyard" slots for reasons "unrelated to talent".

The Galway presenter said that while she "didn't agree with a George Hook witch-hunt", Hook's controversial rape comments were "ignorant, irresponsible and damaging".

It was announced yesterday that Hook had been suspended by Newstalk as the fallout from his controversial on-air comments about a rape case in the UK continued.

Suspended

Mr Hook's remarks on his show on Friday of last week were made while he discussed the case of a woman (19), who alleges she was raped by a former member of the British swim team.

Sile Seoige
Sile Seoige

"Newstalk can confirm that George Hook has been suspended from his duties at the station," a statement read yesterday morning.

Speaking on social media yesterday, Ms Seoige said: "As a broadcaster, he should know better and today Newstalk finally made the correct decision to take him off the air… for now."

However, Ms Seoige said there was "another issue for Newstalk" following the controversy.

"Female slots are few and far between with the majority being given weekend slots over mid-week, as I was," she said.

"Many of those over the years have been either swapped to a graveyard slot over time or given the door for reasons unrelated to talent," she said.

She added: "When my Saturday show wrapped up, I was up another 10,000 listeners in the JNLR results."

Pat Kenny. Photo: Mark Condren
Pat Kenny. Photo: Mark Condren

Another former Newstalk broadcaster, Sarah Carey, has said that the controversy surrounding Hook was "foreseeable". Speaking on RTE's Sean O'Rourke show, Ms Carey said that George Hook's controversial comments were "foreseeable, inevitable and manageable".

"I was so happy working (at Newstalk) for six years. My colleagues were smart and funny and brilliant. In relation to this particular crisis, I think it was foreseeable and it was inevitable and I think it was manageable," she said.

Opinion

"There was an article on the foot of the Kevin Myers incident, because we were hearing a month ago a similar thing.

"It was making the point that when you make controversial opinion, then this is an inevitable business risk.

"If you live by the sword, you die by the sword."

Ms Carey said she believed Hook's lawyers would have defended him by saying 'Well this is what you asked me to do. You asked me to be controversial'.

"Then you get controversy and if you justify that on commercial grounds and then the sponsors start pulling the sponsorship, you lose your sponsorship," she said.

On Monday, the Dalata Hotel Group withdrew its sponsorship from Newstalk as it could not "support any radio station that allows inappropriate and hurtful comments to be made".

The sponsorship for High Noon was believed to be worth up to around €250,000.

A number of complaints have been made to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland regarding Mr Hook's comments, including one which was received from the Women's Council of Ireland.

During the week, Pat Kenny defended his Newstalk colleague.

He said: "I listened to his [Hook's] 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."

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