She called out the lack of people of colour.
A former Rose of Tralee contestant has spoken out about the lack of diversity in this year’s contest and criticised the show for not including more people of colour.
Speaking on air last week, broadcaster Brianna Parkins, the 2016 Sydney Rose, said that more needs to be done to include women of all backgrounds in the contest.
She said: “You can tell from the line-up that there is a lack of diversity, and I’m not just talking about women of colour or mixed raced women.
“I’m not seeing any Traveller women, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Rose who uses a wheelchair, and I don’t see Roses who are comfortable talking about neurodiversity.
“There just seems to be a lack across the board – there’s a racial issue here.”
Also speaking about the lack of members of the LGBTQI+ community in recent years, Brianna noted that “things need to change” in this area too.
She continued: “We need to ask why we haven’t had a transgender woman yet. We must enter these communities and ask: “Do you feel safe?” There are barriers there.
“It needs to appeal to everyone and make sure everyone feels that the Rose of Tralee is a safe space to be in. I’m not sure we can say that with 100% confidence right now.
“Are we calling out to LGBTQI+ groups? Are we calling out to trans people? Are we calling out to Traveller groups? This is an opportunity for the Rose to go out and better itself.”
Speaking about the criticism she gave, Chairman Anthony O’Gara responded to her comments during a heated debate on RTÉ’s This Week.
He said: “Three of the last Roses of Tralee have been mixed-race. It’s such nonsense and it’s very disappointing.
“We’re extraordinarily proud of the fact we have had all sorts of people from all different backgrounds involved over the years.
“I think it’s time people grew up a bit and looked at this festival in the fullness of what it is. People find a different angle every year to come and have a go at us.”
Responding to his comments, Brianna said: “I understand Anthony is very protective of the Rose, but you can’t just point to a handful of mixed-race women and say that’s enough. It’s just not good enough.”