Roses were treated like ‘animals in a circus,’ says contestant

Fainche McCormack said the Rose of Tralee contestants did not sign up to ‘cheap reality television show’


Down Rose Fainche McCormack has said she and the other Roses were “treated like animals in a circus” in the selection process for the live final of the competition.

Ms McCormack (19), described the 65 Roses who participated in the final as being “manipulated, bullied and mistreated”.

She criticised the televised process in which the women were told who was competing in the live final.

The Roses were divided into two rooms; one with the 32 chosen for the live final and the other room with the 32 that were not chosen.

The selection procedure was shown on the RTÉ 1 documentary The Road to the Dome, which was screened on Monday night.

In a post on the Rose of Tralee Facebook page, which has since been deleted, Ms McCormack said neither she nor the other roses signed up “for a cheap reality television show in which our emotions would be manipulated for entertainment purposes.

“Cameras intrusively followed us all week and asked inappropriate probing questions; asking one girl what colour underwear she was wearing right before she went on stage. What’s acceptable about that?”

Ms McCormack stressed that the 10 days of the festival to that point had been “the experience of a lifetime”.

She added: “It’s just a shame that television viewing numbers became more important that the truly amazing girls that got hurt and that now have to deal with the emotional trauma of the whole, quite frankly disgusting and cruel, ordeal. None of us signed up for a cheap reality television show and now unfortunately the Rose of Tralee is an experience I will never forget, for all the wrong reasons.”

Rose of Tralee chief executive Anthony O’Gara said the majority of the Roses left the festival happy but all agreed that the manner in which the final selection process was determined was wrong.

“It is not nice when we get comments that are very severe, but we have to take it on the chin. It is the first year and we have to learn,” he said. “When we do get things wrong we put our hands up.

“All would say that the Sunday morning programme was wrong. In fairness to RTÉ we asked them to put on a separate programme and they did a very good job on it, but probably the timing of the judging and the cameras in the girls’ faces was in retrospect not the right thing to do.”

Mr O’Gara said the festival would love to retain both the format of having 65 Roses at the festival in Tralee with 32 going through to the final and the extra television show, but things would have to change.

Meanwhile, Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins has responded to comments made by the director of the Iona Institute David Quinn about the festival.

Mr Quinn told Newstalk’s The Pat Kenny Show that the Rose of Tralee was essentially “a bit of harmless family entertainment” and political issues such as abortion should not be raised.

Ms Parkins (25), who has called for the Repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the constitution live on stage, tweeted in response: “It must really frighten middle age middle class white blokes like @DavQuinn that women can express opinions now. Sorry lads.”