'Why fix what isn't broken?' - Maria Walsh backs Rose of Tralee host Daithi Ó Sé
Rose of Tralee winner Maria Walsh has defended TV host Maura Derrane after she said it would be a "disaster" for a woman to present the contest.
Derrane said there were "certain jobs" more suited to men and interviewing the Roses in the Dome was one of them.
Walsh, the 2014 winner, admitted she wouldn't mind seeing a female host on stage, but she said she likes the festival's current set-up.
"It might not be politically correct but I love Dáithi [Ó Sé] in it, I think he is the heart and soul of Kerry," she said. "I think why fix something that's not broken?"
Kathleen Watkins is the only woman to have presented the televised show, taking to the Dome stage in 1977. "If there is a female that is suitable and loves the job and loves the festival as much as Dáithi Ó Sé, then yes, of course I'd love to see a female host," Walsh said.
"But for now I guess I am a bit biased because Dáithi was integral to my Rose of Tralee story. And he has a great Kerry accent, what more could you want?"
This year, Walsh is judging the Irish girls in the competition, which culminates in two live shows with 32 of the 57 Roses being interviewed by Ó Sé in Tralee.
The million-dollar question is, of course, what makes a Rose.
According to Walsh, the winner needs to be someone who easily interacts with others, as the job requires the winning Rose to act as an ambassador.
Walsh, who publicly revealed she was gay after winning the contest, said she often gets people asking her for advice, especially around coming out and abstaining from alcohol. "I often feel a little under pressure, as I hope I am giving solid advice," she added.