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13th Dec 2021

Ireland’s Miss Universe contestant uses outfit to call for fair pay for nurses

Katy Brennan

“It’s time to pay nurses fairly. Enough is enough!”

Ireland’s 2021 representative for Miss Universe, Katharine Walker, has used her appearance in the competition to make an important statement.

The 27-year-old nurse from County Down used her outfit to call for fairer pay for nurses and healthcare workers.

This year’s annual pageant, which marked its 70th edition, took place on Sunday in the southern Israeli city of Eilat on the shores of the Red Sea.

Katharine took to the stage in a superhero-esque green sequinned leotard and cape, along with sparkly tights and knee-high black boots.

She then opened her cape to reveal the words “Fair pay for nursing” emblazoned on in big green letters, before holding up arm cuffs with “Healthcare Hero” written on them.

Taking to her Instagram page later on, Katharine expressed how “proud” she felt wearing the costume.

“When I found out I would be representing Ireland at Miss Universe this year, I knew I wanted my costume to have a message,” she said.

“I wanted something that was personal to me but also extremely relevant and impactful. I wanted to celebrate the work of my fellow healthcare workers and also to make a statement on nurses pay.

“I am not just representing Ireland on this stage, but every single healthcare worker, the real heroes of this world, who go above and beyond caring for others, those who work through their breaks and work overtime for no extra pay, those who help the most vulnerable through their darkest days.

“It is time to pay nurses fairly. Enough is enough.”

Katharine qualified as a nurse in 2016 and has worked in paediatric and neonatal intensive care since – working on the frontline throughout the pandemic.

The brilliant outfit was made by custom drag and outfit creation brand Call Me Sophia.

“What an absolute honour to be able to create this Healthcare Hero look for @missuniverseireland @katwalker21 for @missuniverse,” the brand wrote on Instagram. “We wanted our message to be strong & powerful & to honour the healthcare staff around the globe who worked tirelessly in the height of the pandemic and continue to do so.”

Miss India, 21-year-old Harnaaz Sandhu, took home the prestigious Miss Universe crown at the end of the night, with Miss Paraguay and Miss South Africa named as runner-ups.