Entertainment Festivals

Thursday 29 September 2016

RTÉ 'regrets' anger of Roses at 'circus animal' treatment

Kirsty Blake Knox and Sasha Brady

Published 27/08/2016 | 02:30

Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins dancing on stage with host Dáithí Ó Sé during the Rose of Tralee. Photo: Frank McGrath
Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins dancing on stage with host Dáithí Ó Sé during the Rose of Tralee. Photo: Frank McGrath
Sydney Rose Brianna hits out: ‘It was unethical and extremely manipulative’ Picture Credit : Frank McGrath

RTÉ says it "regrets" causing any Rose of Tralee contestants "upset" during the filming of the documentary 'Road to the Dome'.

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The national broadcaster has come under fire after several Roses criticised the way they were treated during filming.

Both Down Rose Fainche McCormack, and Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins, have aired their frustration with RTÉ and the show's producers. Ms McCormack said none of the Roses signed up "to be treated like animals in the circus".

Meanwhile, Parkins described the programme as "unethical". Both of the women took issue with the so-called "rose cull" that took place early last Sunday morning.

Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins voiced her support for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment at this year's Rose of Tralee. Picture Credit: Frank McGrath
Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins voiced her support for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment at this year's Rose of Tralee. Picture Credit: Frank McGrath

Before filming began, the contestants' phones were confiscated and they were divided into two rooms.

In one suite, 32 women were told they had made it through to the final stage of the competition.

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

At the same time, in a room across the corridor, 33 less-fortunate Roses heard their journey had come to an abrupt end.

"We were barked at and told not to do anything to ruin the shot," Parkins said.

"It was all about getting the shot, I signed up for the Rose of Tralee, I didn't sign up for reality TV. I was really disappointed, I thought it was unethical."

Parkins added that many of the women had been deeply upset. "They got us up early so we were tired, and to get a reaction. It was extremely manipulative.

"We were not told about that [process of elimination] until midnight the night before.

"I think if they had told us further before we wouldn't have been happy to participate."

The Down Rose shared Ms Parkins's sentiments.

In a now-deleted Facebook post, McCormack said: "I could go on for days about the many ways we were manipulated, bullied and mistreated ... 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 that it was "a shame that television viewing numbers became more important than 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."

Last night, RTE said it regretted that the production of 'Road to the Dome' had soured McCormack's Rose of Tralee experience.

"We regret that the Down Rose, Fainche McCormack, was upset at elements of the filming process ... the Rose of Tralee Festival has agreed to review the process for next year," a spokesperson for the station said.

'Road to the Dome' was a new addition to the Rose of Tralee's television coverage this year. RTÉ added all 65 Roses "were aware from the outset that they were being filmed at all stages".

Yesterday, CEO of the Rose of Tralee Anthony O'Gara said organisers had apologised to all 65 Roses.

"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 Fainche is genuinely upset and I understand. The girls weren't properly briefed ahead of Sunday night's show."

Irish Independent

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