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Ciara Kelly launched a strong defence of Hook's character.

'One of the most gender blind people I've ever worked with': Ciara Kelly strongly defends George Hook

Hook was suspended on Friday following widespread condemnation of his comments about rape.

LONGTIME NEWSTALK BROADCASTER and contributor Dr Ciara Kelly has strongly defended her colleague George Hook following a week of controversy over comments he made around rape.

Hook was suspended on Friday following widespread condemnation of his comments about rape on his lunchtime show on Friday. The presenter asked “is there no blame now to the person who puts themselves in danger?”.

Sponsors terminated their deals with the station, guests walked off on-air and about 20 staff at the station drafted a letter to management calling for Hook to be taken off air.

Hook and Newstalk apologised in a statement for the comments and Hook himself issued an apology on the airwaves. However he was suspended yesterday while a process is ongoing into what he said.

Speaking this morning on RTÉ’s Marian Finucane show Dr Ciara Kelly – who has a Saturday morning show on Newstalk and is a long-time contributor to the station and Hook’s show – said she strongly disagreed with what Hook had said.

Explainer: Why has Newstalk decided to suspend George Hook?

“I would wholly abhor anybody who in any way tries to lay some of the blame on somebody who is raped at their door,” she said.

I myself was upset with the comments and I wholly disagree with them.

Kelly strongly defended Hook’s character and said that people had used the controversy to “try to tear him down and to tear his character asunder”.

“None of that takes from the hurt caused from the comments,” said Kelly.

Nobody is defending what George Hook has said. But during the week I felt over the course of the week a tone emerged whereby I saw people say things about George Hook that to be honest were much worse than anything George Hook said.

“I think there was a layer on top of that of anger directed at him that was some of it veering into terrible abuse, to be honest,” she said.

I saw people online saying: ‘I wish he was dead, the sooner he’s dead the better’.

“Gender blind”

Kelly said she knew Hook personally and that he was a friend and that seeing him in the heart of the controversy “was a little bit like seeing your dad mess up but he’s still your dad”.

Kelly said that Hook has often (through fault of his own) been accused of misogyny. However, she said he had “championed many women” and had stood up for her throughout her career.

“He has what’s more gone to bat for me several times in my career and accused other people of sexism for not in fact elevating me in some way when he thought I should have been,” she said.

In fact of the people I have worked with in my career in the media he’s been one of the most gender blind people I’ve ever worked with.

Kelly also addressed media coverage during the week which she said sought to display Newstalk as a sexist organisation.

Newstalk currently has no female presenter on weekday slots. However, Kelly said while she would like to see more female presenters that didn’t take away from the multiple women who worked hard at the station.

“I work in Newstalk with a group of very strong, very feisty, intelligent, funny, smart women,” said Kelly.

“It’s almost as if we’ve been whitewashed out of it to create a narrative and it isn’t the case that when you walk into Newstalk it’s like walking onto the set of Mad Men.

It’s nothing like that.

Read: George Hook has been suspended from Newstalk

Read: Dil Wickremasinghe will not present Newstalk show on Saturday over George Hook comments

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