Abortion among topics listed for discussion during competition's group interviews
Rose of Tralee organisers have insisted that contestants are not judged on the basis of their political views.
It emerged last night that abortion was among the topics listed for discussion during the competition's group interview stage.
The Road to the Dome documentary on RTÉ revealed that possible questions included asking whether abortion should be legalised in Ireland and, if so, under what circumstances.
Irish unification, refugees and social media were also included on a list of topical issues prepared by organisers.
The sessions, which were chaired by judges, took place before the competition’s first live TV broadcast last night.
A spokesperson said: "Abortion was among the topics but that does not mean it was discussed.
"The Roses are not judged on their answers in the group judging interviews but rather on how they interact with each other."
The Cork Rose, Denise Collins, told Cork’s 98FM Opinion Line show this morning that contestants were free to air their own views on different political issues.
"We’re all educated, articulate women. We can form opinions on issues like [abortion], and we’re completely free and open to voice those opinions."
Ms Collins added that the members of her group interview made an effort to remain civil during their discussion on abortion.
"We discussed the pros and cons, and tried to keep a diplomatic view on it and not to be too one-sided about it," she said.
"As an adult, you have to see the pros and cons of everything. You have to be diplomatic."
Abortion rights became a talking point in the competition last night when the Sydney Rose called for a referendum on the eighth amendment.
Brianna Parkins, a 25-year-old journalist, said on stage: "I think we can do better here in Ireland.
"I think it is time to give women a say on their reproductive rights. I would love to see a referendum on the eighth coming up soon.
"That would be my dream."