The Sydney Rose Opens Up About The Row Over Her Repeal The 8th Remarks on the Rose of Tralee 5 years ago

The Sydney Rose Opens Up About The Row Over Her Repeal The 8th Remarks on the Rose of Tralee

It has been a controversial week for the Rose of Tralee festival.

Usually, the annual event only makes the headlines for its wackier interviews and performances, but this year's festival has been unlike any other.

One of the Roses complained about how the contestants were treated throughout the event, saying how they were, "manipulated for entertainment purposes" and "treated like animals in the circus".

One of the big talking points from the Dome in Kerry was the Fathers4Justice protestor that stormed the stage during the interview with the Cavan Rose.

But the moment that struck the deepest chord with Irish viewers on the night, and ever since, was the interview with the Sydney Rose, Brianna Parkins.

Parkins works as a journalist with the ABC network in Australia, and used her time on stage to speak about a host of women’s issues, including cuts to domestic violence charity funding in her native country.

"It's just not on, and I think we can do better," she told host Daithi O'Se.

"And I think we can do better in Ireland, I think it’s time to give women a say over their reproductive rights. I'd love to see a referendum coming up on the 8th [Amendment] sometime soon, that'd be my dream."


The Rose received a lot of praise for bringing up the topic, but others, such as Mary Kennedy, felt it was inappropriate.

Now, Brianna has given her account of the reaction to her provocative comments on the show. Writing in today's Irish Times, she says:

"For all the platitudes about respecting women I think it is time for the festival – and myself – to live up to what we’ve been saying about empowerment. It takes a couple of seconds of sweaty bravery, but I walk off stage proud of myself . Then I look at Twitter.

"I don’t know why a girl in a ball gown and sash repeating the same thing that Ireland’s women’s-rights campaigners have been saying for decades has made such an impact. But the threats come quickly."

She says how the following day, the Roses "hug me and say they admire my guts and stupidity", and describes how "a little girl comes over for an autograph, but when her mother reads my sash she pulls her away."


Brianna also relays how the show's media manager responded:

"[He] tells me I’ve 'let him down'," she writes. "I tell him I feel the same way about having been exposed to the TV crew. He listens to me respectfully and tells me he won’t gag me or punish me."

The Australian is also critical of the show's set-up, echoing comments from other contestants this week.

"A few of us are beginning to feel uncomfortable with the smiling-and-waving tour that seems like a great big Kate Middleton impersonation contest. I’m told my judging interviews will be first, and I’m excited to be asked how I feel about something."


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