Wednesday 28 September 2016

'Like animals in a circus' - Rose of Tralee contestant slams 'cruel and disgusting' festival treatment

Sasha Brady

Published 26/08/2016 | 11:53

Seven month old Oisin O Donnell from Tralee poses for pictures with Down Rose Fainche McCormack and Clare Rose Leah Kenny, at the Dome in Tralee. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Seven month old Oisin O Donnell from Tralee poses for pictures with Down Rose Fainche McCormack and Clare Rose Leah Kenny, at the Dome in Tralee. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Rose of Tralee winner Maggie McEldowney from Chicago is congratulated by this year's team of Roses at the Dome in Tralee on Tuesday night. Photo by Domnick Walsh
2016 Down Rose Fainche McCormack
2016 Down Rose Fainche McCormack's Facebook post

The Down Rose has slammed the Rose of Tralee festival, claiming the contestants were "treated like animals in a circus".

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Fainche McCormack took to the Rose of Tralee's Facebook page to air her grievances with how she claims she was treated during the festival.

The Newry woman said that the Roses did “not sign up for a cheap reality television show in which our emotions would be manipulated for entertainment purposes”.

In the since-deleted post, the Down representative said that she had enjoyed herself for the most part of the 15-day festival.

Rose of Tralee winner Maggie McEldowney from Chicago is congratulated by this year's team of Roses at the Dome in Tralee on Tuesday night. Photo by Domnick Walsh
Rose of Tralee winner Maggie McEldowney from Chicago is congratulated by this year's team of Roses at the Dome in Tralee on Tuesday night. Photo by Domnick Walsh

 “The Rose of Tralee was honestly the most amazing experience of my life, until Sunday morning."

She added: "We did not sign up to be treated like animals in the circus and held in a room against our will.

“I could go on for days about the many ways we were manipulated, bullied and mistreated; However, up until a certain point, the Rose of Tralee was the experience of a lifetime, every part of a little girl’s dream.

“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.

2016 Down Rose Fainche McCormack's Facebook post
2016 Down Rose Fainche McCormack's Facebook post

“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,” she added.

Ms McCormack was referring to Sunday night's show in which the 65 hopefuls were whittled down to 33.

The girls were divided into two rooms - in one suite, lucky ladies were told that they would make it through to the final stage of the competiton. While at the same time in a room across the corridor, 33 less fortunate roses heard that their journey had come to an abrupt end.

The whole experience was captured on film by an RTÉ camera crew for the documentary 'Road to The Dome'.

2016 Down Rose Fainche McCormack
2016 Down Rose Fainche McCormack

Festival director Anthony O'Gara addressed Ms McCormack's complaints and told Independent.ie that it wasn't unusual for contestants who didn't make the final 33 to have "strong reactions".

However, he agreed that the filming the 'Rose Cull' for the cameras was "insensitive".

"The manner in which the announcement was made was insensitive and we'll take that on board. We have apologised to the Roses. I accept that the Fainche is genuinely upset and I understand. The girls weren't properly briefed ahead of Sunday night's show.

He added: "Fainche enjoyed the 15-day experience and had continued to do so for the remaining two days.  It's unfortunate that Sunday night ruined her overall experience."

Earlier in the week Mr O'Gara said that he is questioning whether or not it's a good idea to allow a crew backstage next year, "We're going to be sensible. We're going to stand back and look at the overall picture."

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