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Cllr. Coonan Slams Minister Cullen’s Rape Remark

Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism Martin Cullen has spoken for the first time of his horrendous treatment by the media after he was wrongly accused of having an affair with a Waterford businesswoman Monica Leech.

PR consultant Monica Leech was awarded €1.87m in a record libel award in June 2009, after she won her action against Independent Newspapers.

Mr Cullen said defamatory media coverage of groundless allegations almost destroyed his life, that of his family.
Minister Martin Cullen, who was a guest speaker at a seminar on defamation, described the media intrusion he experienced over false allegations concerning Monica Leech as akin to “rape.”

According to RTÉ News and The Irish Times, he said that the media treatment he received was “like waking up every morning and being raped”.

Cllr Pauline Coonan

Feeling like a hare at a coursing meet , besieged even, witch-hunted, naked in public, violated or persecuted possibly, but most definitely not raped Mr Cullen.

North Tipperary Cllr. Pauline Coonan has described this comment made by Minister Martin Cullen on the sensitive topic of rape as “crass and hurtful”.

Cllr. Coonan said: “This was an extremely insensitive and tactless remark to make and undoubtedly hurtful towards all those who have experienced rape and who still suffer today. I was astounded that Minister Cullen could compare media coverage of allegations against him as being raped.”

Cllr. Coonan continued: “I understand that Minister Cullen and his family had a tough time during the groundless allegations but his remarks take no account of the horrific crime of the rape of children, men, and women. It is absolutely shameful that a Government Minister can compare the intrusion of the media to the absolute horror experienced by victims of rape. He was insensitive and uncaring in his remarks and his empathy is false, hurtful and damaging to real victims of rape,” concluded the Fine Gael Councillor.

People affected by rape can contact Aware’s Helpline by telephone on 1890 –  303 302 and the Rape Crisis Centre in Nenagh on 067 – 41122 for a listening ear.

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