Belfast Telegraph

Miss Ulster 2013: His name was on the invites... but where was host Basil?

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

He was featured on the invitations ‘requesting the pleasure of your company’ — but NI21 leader Basil McCrea wasn’t at the Miss Ulster final on Saturday.

The Lagan Valley MLA had been due to host the event but appeared to withdraw from proceedings after two female MLAs quit the judging panel amidst controversy.

Saturday’s event, likened to a Father Ted ‘Lovely Girls’ competition by feminists and the DUP, was switched to Titanic Belfast from Parliament Buildings following the withdrawal of the SDLP’s Dolores Kelly and the UUP’s Jo-Anne Dobson as judges.

Mrs Kelly and Mrs Dobson, both judges at the inaugural Miss Ulster pageant, hosted by Basil McCrea at Stormont in 2011, claim they were unaware the competition was only open to women who are dress size 8-12, at least 5ft 7in and aged 18-24.

Mr McCrea had been due to host Miss Ulster again, but also withdrew from the event following criticism, and was replaced by Cool FM’s Connor Phillips.

Miss Ulster organiser Michelle McTernan said she and event sponsor American Holidays were thrilled with how Saturday went and confirmed Titanic Belfast has been booked for the Miss Ulster 2014 final.

“Shaniece was the unanimous winner and I'm confident that she is going to be an excellent ambassador for Ulster during her year,” Michelle added.

Holywood marketing student Fiona Anderson was runner-up and law graduate Claire Gunn, from Carryduff, took third place.

Bronagh Neeson, from Ballymena, a second cousin of Hollywood actor Liam Neeson, was among the finalists.

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