Belfast Telegraph

Derry woman removed from awards list for 'not being from Ireland'

Bubblebum founder Grainne Kelly
Bubblebum founder Grainne Kelly
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

A Londonderry businesswoman has revealed she was removed from the finals of an Irish awards ceremony because she lives in Northern Ireland.

Bubblebum founder and CEO Grainne Kelly told BBC Radio Ulster she was contacted "out of the blue" to be told she was a finalist in the Irish Women's Business Awards.

The company behind the awards are UK based Creative Oceanic, which holds awards ceremonies across Canada, UK and Ireland.

Mrs Kelly's company makes car booster seats for children and distributes them worldwide.

She said she had been asked to promote the awards on social media.

After not hearing from the awards for a number of weeks, she contacted them to ask for details of the presentation night, only to be told "because you don't live in Ireland we can't actually have you as a finalist in the award".

Mrs Kelly said she "was not complaining" at not being nominated, but told the organisers "last time I checked I actually do live in Ireland".

The businesswoman said she had won all-Ireland awards in the past with no issue.

She said that she told the organisers she lived in Derry, but was told "that's not in the South of Ireland".

"Ireland is an island, it's the island of Ireland split into two, it doesn't matter if you live in Northern Ireland or Southern Ireland," Mrs Kelly told them.

She said that the snub was akin to banning people from Scotland taking part in UK wide awards.

Mrs Kelly claimed the organisers told her that they were planning Northern Ireland awards in the future, which she declined to be part of.

"Once you are doing an all-Ireland award, a Northern Ireland award isn't as competitive, you want it to be as competitive as it possibly can," she said.

"There are so many people that are Irish that live in America, therefore technically they are saying if you live in America and you're Irish you can't enter either."

Mrs Kelly claimed that woman who lived around Belfast remained nominated for an award at the event.

"Derry is right on the border, I could live in Donegal if I want five days a week," she joked.

"I'm very confused about my identity now with all this Brexit chat, I don't know whether I'm allowed to be British, am I allowed to be Irish, what am I allowed to be?"

Mrs Kelly said the incident was a "miscommunication" from a company that "didn't understand the politics of Northern Ireland".

The Belfast Telegraph has contacted Creative Oceanic in regards to this story.

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