*Miss Clare, Rebecca O’Neill
Two Clare contestants have withdrawn from Miss Ireland amid ongoing controversy surrounding the competition.
Former winners and contestants have criticised the rules of the competition that prohibited entrants who have had children or got married.
Nineteen year old Blue Scannell who was hoping to be named Miss Dublin was among the first to withdraw from the competition and cited the “outdated” restrictions for her decision to do so. She has since launched a petition seeking a change to the guidelines to make them inclusive of all women, it has amassed over 1,900 signatures.
Current Miss Ireland Chelsea Farrell has cut ties with their organisation over the controversy, while Miss Limerick Kyla McGowan, 19, had her title stripped after she backed the petition and criticised the rules.
On Monday, Miss Clare Rebecca O’Neill confirmed that she was pulling out of the Miss Ireland final. The Shannon native faces the possibility of having her title stripped off her as a result of taking this stance as she called the rules from the Miss World organisation “outdated”. She said,
“I feel better about standing up for what I believe in than staying quiet for the sake of my title”.
“This decision has not been easy whatsoever. But for me, I never want to go into something I’m not comfortable with and my feelings cannot be ignored. Women supporting women is something that inspires me more than ever,” Rebecca stated.
A columnist with The Clare Echo, Rebecca was hopeful her actions would make a difference and lead to a reform of the criteria associated with the contest. “I want to show that standing up for what you believe in takes courage”.
First runner-up of Miss Clare, Siobhán Fitzpatrick who had qualified for the semi-finals of Miss Ireland has also confirmed her decision to withdraw after she was offered the title won by O’Neill. “I cannot continue with something my heart isn’t fully in and that I don’t support. I’m standing up and showing my support for Rebecca O’Neill who has become a friend and supporter of mine throughout our journey”. The Kilmaley student continued, “My Miss Clare journey was a very enjoyable one and provided me with an experience that I’ll never forget”.
Organiser of the Miss Limerick and Miss Clare heats, Patrick McLoughney has resigned from his role. He said he was instructed to strip McGowan of her title but refused to do so and instead announced his departure from the role. He appeared on RTÉ’s Liveline with Joe Duffy to discuss the matter on Monday.