David Quinn says 8th amendment Rose of Tralee comments could be ratings ploy

The head of the Iona Institute wants to keep politics out of the contest

David Quinn says 8th amendment Rose of Tralee comments could be ratings ploy

Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins (left) on stage with host Daithi O Se | Image via @RoseofTralee_ on Twitter

"If Roses want to show how 'right on' they are, just stick to Twitter" - the words of Iona Institute director David Quinn.

His comments in the Irish Independent are referencing remarks made by Sydney Rose of Tralee contestant, Brianna Parkins.

During the festival this week, Ms Parkins called for a vote on abortion rights, saying: "I think it's time to give women a say on their own reproductive rights, and I would love to see a referendum on the eighth (amendment) coming up soon - that would be my dream."

Is this freedom of speech, or politicising an unpolitical contest?

Mr Quinn told Newstalk's Pat Kenny Show: "I suppose my argument in a nutshell is there's a time and a place for everything - and what is the Rose of Tralee, it's basically a bit of harmless family entertainment.

"Once you begin to kind of give the green light to some of the contestants expressing opinions on controversial topics - it could be water charges, it could be property tax, you name it...once you start doing that, then when do you stop?

"Do they all start trying to outbid each other in future years?"

He suggested this could be a ratings grab from some of the organisers.

"I see ratings are dropping, by the way - I was seeing in one of the papers today that ratings compared with 10 years ago are down a third, and have been dropping for the last six years, apparently.

"So I just wonder if there's something to do with that going on here."

He also claimed this could be a slippery slope, adding: "It's always been like that, so you don't have to add on the other layer of politics and political options and controversial opinions in order to raise it above the level of the Miss World contest.

"When something has a particular essence, a particular nature just leave well enough alone.

"So as I see it there's a decision to be made about what future contestants should be allowed to do.

"Certain things should be allowed to just remain," he added.

While in reply to Mr Quinn, Ms Parkins tweeted: