A breath of fresh air which was badly needed
There has been a lot of debate since the Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins slated the Rose of Tralee competition of which she was a part.
After she herself was dressed down for sharing her views on the eighth amendment on live television she wrote a scathing editorial on her experience which has sparked all manner of debate on the festival itself.
Parkins told the tale of an event which was false and media-managed in the extreme. She reveals how the contestants, given the upcoming election - the USA Roses in particular, are coached not to get involved in political debate or to share any controversial views. She likened it to a 'Kate Middleton impersonation' competition and shares more than one cringe-worthy moment.
The Roses are warned to laugh off any suggestions of it being a 'lovely girls' contest and are told not to smoke in view of the cameras.
It's not surprising that there are certain rule to adhere to regarding a competition of this magnitude as it is a world-wide event, albeit only of any interest of those of Irish heritage.
So far, the Rose of Tralee has emerged relatively unscathed each and every year, because for us, the Irish who live in Ireland, it is just another festival. Yes, it's a bit twee and certainly old fashioned, but there is no point in taking it seriously because it is just meant to be a bit of fun. Anyone hoping for anything more than a week of photo calls and outings across the country is bound to be disappointed.
I admire Parkins for her honesty and for speaking out about an issue that many of the Roses would rather avoid. She cleverly used the event to raise the issue of women's reproductive rights and took the backlash from the powers that be on the chin. The Rose of Tralee is supposed to showcase strong, intelligent and independent young women, yet when one of them decides to share an opinion on a truly important issue she is told that she is a disappointment.
Surely this is wrong? Why can't the Roses speak up for something they believe in? Why can't they debate real issues and be asked to justify their views if they are controversial?
In fact, such a move would be a refreshing change for the event and it might even bring it into the 21st century.