Organiser defends Miss Ulster beauty pageant
Two Assembly member judges withdraw because of size restrictions on entrants
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster: “The Miss Ulster competition . . . at its most benign sounds very like ‘Father Ted’s’ Lovely Girls competition.” Photograph: Andrew Towe/DETI/PA Wire
The organiser of the Miss Ulster competition to be held at Stormont on Saturday has rejected claims that the beauty pageant is embarrassing and on a par with Fr Ted’s “Lovely Girls” contest.
Michelle McTernan, a former Miss Ireland, defended the competition which received the “sponsorship” of NI21 leader Basil McCrea so that it could be held at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.
However, two MLAs who were to be part of the judging panel Ulster Unionist Jo-Anne Dobson and SDLP member Dolores Kelly yesterday withdrew because entrants must be between sizes 8 and 12.
“I was not aware that this competition excluded anyone from entry, and had I known this, I would not have agreed to take part,” said Ms Dobson.
Ms Kelly said she hadn’t been aware of the dress size restriction. “I was delighted to lend my support to the Miss Ulster competition because it acts as a showcase for young talented students from Belfast Met (College) who design the dresses.”
The DUP Minister for Enterprise Arlene Foster criticised the competition. “The Miss Ulster competition . . . at its most benign sounds very like Father Ted’s Lovely Girls competition,” she said.
“With so many young girls facing peer pressure about their image, competitions structured like this are deeply unhelpful.”
Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon said the event was embarrassing. “Women deserve to be treated with equality and respect and not judged on their appearance.”
Ms McTernan said she did not make competition rules in relation to size. “I do, however, organise plus-size modelling competitions,” she said.