| 11.2°C Dublin

Banned Miss Ireland Maire returns for Universe contest

DETHRONED Miss Ireland Maire Hughes has reached for her bikini again -- this time for Miss Universe Ireland.

The Galway girl has thrown her hat into the ring for a second beauty pageant -- and this time her age won't be a factor, as the entry limit is 27.

Ms Hughes was approached by the Dail Bar in Galway and admits it took her a while to come around to the idea.

"I just thought, why not? So many girls would kill for this opportunity," she said.

Maire won the Miss Ireland title this year, but was stripped of the crown because, at 25, she was too old for the Miss World final.

She will take her place along with 21 other contestants, including newly-qualified doctor Miss Belfast Michele Crawford Jefferson, Rachel Wallace, Nicola Hughes and Alyson Boyle.

Competition organiser and model agency boss Andrea Roche (34) has hit back at claims that beauty pageants have become outdated.


"You can say what you like about them, they're still a brilliant starting point into the world of modelling, they're the perfect starting point as you get so much exposure from them," she said.

She has been involved in pageants for the past seven years, running the Miss Ireland contest before setting up Miss Universe Ireland.

Taking place at the Ballsbridge hotel on Friday, 300 well-dressed guests will be making their way to the venue to enjoy a fun-filled night.

Irish star Ryan Sheridan will be performing, while Alan Hughes and Lisa Fitzpatrick will host proceedings.

The panel of judges includes pregnant model Pippa O'Connor and celebrity crimper Michael Doyle.

The overall winner will represent Ireland in Donald Trump's international pageant which takes place in Las Vegas on December 9.