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Sunday 17 December 2017

Plan for child pageant to be held every year

Nick Bramhill and Louise Hogan

ORGANISERS behind a contentious American-style child beauty pageant plan to turn it into an annual event in Ireland – after their first competition went ahead despite public backlash.

The Texas-based Universal Royalty Beauty Pageant saw 20 toddlers and teens take part in a show held in the beer garden of Corrigan's Kitchen in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan.

It was a slimmed down affair after dozens of parents and offspring decided not attend when a hotel in Dublin backed out of staging the event at a late stage.

Senator Jillian van Turnhout has said she will now considering tabling legislation to ban such events.

"So many people especially parents over the past two days have asked me to see if there is a way to ban them. I've worked on many advocacy issues but I've never seen this kind of opinion from one perspective," said the former chief executive of the Children's Rights Alliance.

Universal Royalty boss Annette Hill admitted she made the decision to keep the alternative venue a secret out of fear it would also cancel.

Ms Hill insisted that, despite the difficulties and opposition she encountered when staging the event, there was a "wonderful atmosphere" and she was pleased at how the first-ever Irish show had finished.

"Unfortunately we lost about 20 of the participants.

"It was brilliant. There was even an 11-year-old boy from Cork taking part and he was absolutely fantastic," she said.

"I'm going to look into holding regional events here in the future in places like Cork, Galway and Belfast, as well as Dublin. So my plan next year is to have between three and four pageants," Ms Hill added.

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald last week called for the event to be banned, and described it as "inappropriate."

Irish Independent

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