'I'm not ready to talk about anything like that' - Rose of Tralee Dr Jennifer silent on Eighth Amendment
The 2017 Rose of Tralee, junior doctor Jennifer Byrne, has said she is not ready to discuss issues such as the Eighth Amendment.
The contentious topic became a talking point last year when Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins called for a repeal of the Eighth on stage at The Dome in Tralee.
Jennifer (24) is specialising in general practice focusing on women's health and, in particular, obstetrics and gynaecology.
When asked at a photocall yesterday if she would be commenting on the Eighth, a male communications officer said: "No."
Jennifer then said she would prefer not to address the issue.
"I'm just getting used to my role and enjoying everything and I'm not ready to talk about anything like that," she said.
The Clonaderig native became the first Rose of Tralee from Co Offaly in the festival's 58-year history.
Jennifer, who works in the Accident and Emergency Unit of University Hospital Galway, said she will now have to decide whether to give up her job for a year so she can commit full-time to her Rose duties.
"I haven't thought about it, I'm living in the moment. I'll discuss it with my family and have a think about it," she said.
Jennifer said Galway A&E is a million miles from the bright lights of The Dome.
"It's very different," she said. "I'm in my scrubs with my hair tied up when I'm in work."
The Rose of Tralee is often dismissed as nothing more than a "lovely girls" competition, but Jennifer said that description does the festival a disservice.
"I think it's unfair," she said. "If people are saying that then they don't know what it's like.
"Anyone who has met the Roses or the escorts knows it's a group of young people having the craic and celebrating Irish culture and heritage, and there's nothing outdated about that.
"All the women on stage are modern women."
Jennifer believes her passion for sport and outgoing personality are among the reasons the judges decided she should wear the crown for the next 12 months.
"I do Irish dancing and Gaelic football, so I represent the typical Irish girl from a strong Irish community, and I'm going to be a good role model and ambassador for the Rose of Tralee," she said.
Jennifer has represented Ireland in soccer at under-17 and under-19 levels and at the World University Games.
Tuesday night's final attracted an average TV audience of 637,000, up from 618,000 viewers in 2015. The 2017 final had a 66pc audience share.
Host Daithi O Se said he was thrilled.
"I'm delighted for Jennifer," he said. "Her personality and caring nature shone through during the week and on stage. She will be a wonderful ambassador for the Rose of Tralee."