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Rose of Tralee contestant was right to speak about abortion referendum, says organiser

The Sydney contestant in the Rose of Tralee, who caused widespread controversy when she spoke about a woman’s right to an abortion, has been defended by the event organiser.

Anthony O’Gara, head of the Rose of Tralee organisation, said he was delighted that Brianna Parkins said there should be a referendum on the Eighth Amendment, which protects the right of the unborn child and so effectively outlaws abortion.

Rose of Tralee contestant was right to speak about abortion referendum

O’Gara said: “The young women involved are exceptional people, they are independent obviously, and it would be a bit silly to expect that they wouldn’t have opinions, controversial or otherwise, on different things.”

“I am delighted that people express their opinions and that there is reaction and let that flow.

“I think it’s a great thing that you know that, if someone has an opinion, they will express that opinion. When you have 65 women from different parts of the world together I would presume a significant number of them share her opinion.

“It’s a bit like any other part of society; you ask any of the escorts their views I think you’d get a mixed opinion. But we have to deal with the reality.”

O’Gara said people should remember that the Rose of Tralee festival was about sharing the “wider Irish family” which involved people with Irish heritage from all over the world.

“Sometimes in our views, we are very narrow in what being Irish is. Very often an American or an Australian girl might be pilloried because they speak in a different accent with a different attitude about things.”

However, not everyone involved in the festival agreed. The chair of the panel of judges, Mary Kennedy, said the Rose of Tralee celebration was not an appropriate forum for discussing the Eighth Amendment.

Reaction on Twitter was mixed but largely in support of Brianna’s comments.

Reaction on Twitter

“Not only did a Rose of Tralee call for #repealthe8th, the audience applauded her!”

“Yet another publicity stunt trying to promote the ending of a human life. What choice does the unborn child have?”

“We like to look at it as promoting a woman’s right to choose what happens her body+reproductive system #repealthe8th”

“Ran out to seek wifi in a Lisdoonvarna hotel to thank Sydney Rose Brianna for supporting #repealthe8th Cannot believe.”

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