Miss Ireland was crowned 'fair and square', says judge Aisling O'Loughlin
Published 22/07/2014 | 10:30
It may have been handbags at dawn at Miss Ireland after one of the finalists said she reckoned she lost out after her on-stage gaffe.
But competition judge Aisling O'Loughlin has said that the winner, Jessica Hayes, was picked "fair and square" after a gruelling day of interviews.
Miss Louth, Fionnuala Short, raised eyebrows after saying on stage that she and her fellow finalists were hungry as they "hadn't been fed all day".
She said afterwards how someone told her how she "could have won" if it weren't for her comment.
Refuting this, Xpose presenter Aisling told the Diary: "Not at all, that wasn't the case at all. We had nine judges in total and it was a very fair system.
"We started the day at about 10am and the interviews went on throughout the day, and we marked the girls on everything. By the time the live event started at about 7 or 8pm, we already had the girls whittled down to 16 and then to eight.
"We didn't even talk to each other about our marks. There was none of that, 'I think this girl should win'."
She said that "very little" of the competition was based on the live element of the contest, where the girls were interviewed on stage.
"It's not about being a pretty face or giving all the right answers. Ultimately, this is a girl that has to fit in with the Miss World competition and we all had to think about it from that perspective, how she's going to tackle that contest," she continued.
"I was sitting beside Sarah Morrissey on the night and she knows the game so well. She knows it's also about how you present yourself and how the girl is going to look on the international stage."
Aisling said that Jessica was the clear winner.
"You could see that she was quite healthy and eats well and exercises. She had glowing skin, glowing hair and the fact that she entered the contest last year clearly stood to her as well," she said.
When asked if she thought the competition could be viewed as old-fashioned and sexist, Aisling - who's on a two-week break from Xpose - said critics need only look at former winners like Sarah Morrissey and Olivia Treacy.
"These women are ambassadors for what Miss Ireland is. They're smart, sassy businesswomen who are very proud to be former pageant winners," she added.