Two child beauty pageants scrapped
THE boss of a controversial US child beauty pageant company has abandoned plans to stage contests in Dublin and Cork - but will still host one event in Belfast.
Texas-based Universal Royalty had intended to stage three glitzy 'Toddlers & Tiaras'-style events across Ireland in September, as a follow-up to their debut child beauty competition in this country last year.
But a cool response from hoteliers and venue bosses in the Republic has forced company boss Annette Hill to scale back her plans to just one event - in Belfast on September 20.
Ms Hill said the Belfast pageant would be free for contestants to enter, a goodwill gesture intended to make up for chaotic scenes that marred last year's event, which - after a Dublin hotel pulled out of hosting the event - was eventually staged in a much smaller venue in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan.
Dozens of angry parents stormed out of the re-arranged pageant last year, furious that organisers had left it to the last minute to inform them of the location of the new venue.
But Ms Hill vowed not to repeat the mistakes of last year and revealed she would be travelling with a much larger crew and entourage to ensure "everything runs smoothly". She also claimed her decision not to charge contestants to participate in the Belfast pageant would leave her out of pocket to the tune of more than €20,000.
"We're just holding the one pageant in Belfast, because that's where most of the interest is from and where we had the best offer.