Saturday 25 October 2014

Uproar as child pageant organisers schedule another Irish date

Published 02/05/2014 | 14:10

Aisling Murphy with Universal Royalty boss Annette Hill after the youngster won the Universal Royalty child pageant.
Children’s activist and Senator Jillian van Turnhout
Children’s activist and Senator Jillian van Turnhout

A children’s rights activist has condemned the decision of an American company to return to Ireland to host a child beauty pageant.

“I don’t believe child pageants have a place in Ireland,” Senator Jillian Van Turnhout told RTE Radio 1 in response to the announcement that Universal Royalty will stage an event this September.  

The Texas-based company intends to hold what it calls a GLITZ beauty pageant for babies, toddlers and teens in Ireland as part of an international pageant tour.

It is the same firm that was behind the controversial child beauty pageant held in Co Monaghan last year.

Senator Turnhout said this type of competition sends a “bad message to a child”.

“Childhood is a very unique time in anyone’s life. In this competition everything is based on the physical attractiveness. In fact, watching one of these competitions, the loser prize was best personality,” she added.

The mother of a child beauty pageant competitor maintained that critics of these events are “watching too much TV” and not “speaking from personal knowledge”. 

“There is a difference between the shows that take place in American and those that are held in Ireland,” Louise Rooney told RTE radio this afternoon.

Senator Turnout said she disagreed “with greatest respect”.  “I think we have plenty of youth organisations in Ireland which provide a huge opportunity for children and I don’t think there is any place for child pageants.”

The Sunday Independent reported earlier this year that a number of Irish hotels have already secretly agreed to host the controversial American-style child's beauty pageant when it returns to our shores.

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has said organisers of child beauty pageants should clearly identify the nature of their event at the time of booking.

"While it is a matter for each hotel to determine their own commercial activities, the IHF opposes the holding of child beauty pageants in Ireland as noted in Senator Van Turnhout’s Private Members Motion on this issue earlier this year."

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