Down Rose claims contestants ‘manipulated, bullied and mistreated’

August 29, 2016

The 2016 Down Rose has slammed the Rose of Tralee competition describing it as a “a cheap reality television show” in which the contestants’ emotions were “manipulated for entertainment purposes.”

Newry girl, Fainche McCormack made her comments on the festival’s Facebook page on Friday, claiming the Roses “were manipulated, bullied and mistreated.” Her post was subsequently deleted.

The former Our Lady’s Grammar School pupil said that cameras “intrusively” followed the Roses in the week leading up to Sunday’s show and added that they were asked inappropriate questions such as what colour underwear they were wearing.

Despite describing her time in the competition as the “most amazing experience of my life”,  the 19 year old said all that changed on the morning of the live show.

Her post read,

“The Rose of Tralee was honestly the most amazing experience of my life, until Sunday morning…I, and my fellow rose sisters, did not sign up for a cheap reality television show in which our emotions would be manipulated for entertainment purposes, nor did we sign up to be treated like animals in the circus and held in a room against our will. Cameras intrusively followed us all week and asked inappropriate probing questions; asking one girl what colour underwear she was wearing right before she went on stage, what’s acceptable about that?

“I could go on for days about the many ways we were manipulated, bullied and mistreated; ,owever, up until a certain point, the Rose of Tralee was the experience of a lifetime, every part of a little girl’s dream.

“It’s just a shame that television viewing numbers became more important that the truly amazing girls that got hurt and that now have to deal with the emotional trauma of the whole, quite frankly disgusting and cruel, ordeal. None of us signed up for a cheap reality television show and now unfortunately the Rose of Tralee is an experience I will never forget, for all the wrong reasons.”

On Sunday morning (21st August), in a segment which was televised for RTÉ’s Road to the Dome, the 65 hopefuls were whittled down to 33.  The girls were divided into two rooms after being given either a white or a red rose by their escorts.  In one room, Roses were filmed being told they had made it through to the final while in the other, the Roses were told their journey had come to an end and they would not be progressing.

The executive chairman of the festival, Anthony O’Gara, has admitted that the Sunday morning segment was “insensitive”.

“The manner in which the extra TV show, The Road to the Dome, was finished was insensitive and we didn’t anticipate that. We wouldn’t like to see it repeated and we apologised to the Roses and they accepted that,” said Mr O’Gara, before adding,

“We’ve been running regional finals for the past 10 years and we always get strong reactions from the Roses that don’t get through. We understand people are disappointed and this year wasn’t any different.”