Solidarity to boycott Newstalk until Hook ceases broadcasting

Programme producers are told not to use 'Irish Times' journalists as contributors

Broadcaster George Hook says he is "truly sorry" for comments he made about rape on his radio show, "High Noon." Audio: Newstalk

 

The Solidarity Party has said it will refuse to appear on any Newstalk programmes and will not give interviews to journalists from the radio station until George Hook stops broadcasting.

The move is in response to comments which the presenter made about rape and responsibility on his radio show last Friday.

On Wednesday afternoon, the party tweeted that: “the comments made by George Hook are unacceptable. We refuse to take part at this time.”

In response to queries, the party clarified that TDs would also refuse to take questions from Newstalk reporters at press events or doorstep interviews.

Asked what would cause the party to end its boycott, Solidarity TD Paul Murphy said he did not think Hook should continue broadcasting for the station.

“I think his comments were beyond inappropriate and he should be removed from the programme,” said Mr Murphy, who confirmed that would be the party’s requirement for ending its action.

Newstalk management met Hook again for further talks on Wednesday as part of a process the station said had been initiated following the presenter’s comments on his High Noon lunchtime show, which led to widespread criticism and the cancellation of the show’s sponsorship deal.

Hook has apologised on two occasions since then, saying that he was “truly sorry” for the hurt caused.

On Tuesday, management asked staff not to submit a letter of protest, because of the negative impact it would have on the ongoing process.

The letter, which had been signed by up to 20 employees, said that “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.”

One researcher has since been moved from Hook’s production team to another show, having indicated she no longer wished to work there.

A source said that on Wednesday morning, programme producers were told by management that they should not use any Irish Times journalists as contributors on their shows, following an opinion column by Fintan O’Toole in which he criticised what he called the misogyny at the radio station.

Newstalk declined to confirm or deny the claim.