Miss Ulster forced to move as size really 'does matter'
Miss Ulster hopeful Claire Gunn is celebrating after being chosen as the CastleCourt representative at the annual competition
The south Belfast beauty is set to bag thousands of pounds of prizes and a modelling contract, as well as representing Ulster at the prestigious Miss Universe Ireland Competiton if she becomes the overall Miss Ulster Winner.
Claire (20) was chosen from three semi-finalists to become the Castle Court representative after being talent spotted by the Cool FM Street Team.
Binder Tohani from CastleCourt said she is very excited to be co-sponsoring the competition: "CastleCourt is very proud to be invited to co-sponsor such a prestigious competition and I'm looking forward to being on the judging panel," she said.
"The competition is also a fantastic platform for CastleCourt retailers to showcase their autumn winter collections and we look forward to welcoming the newly crowned Miss Ulster who will be making a personal appearance in the centre before Christmas," she added.
The beauty competition was forced to change the venue for its final from Stormont to Titanic Belfast this week after two politicians withdrew from the panel of judges.
UUP MLA Joanne Dobson and the SDLP's Dolores Kelly decided to give up their judges' positions after learning the entrants were subject to strict size criteria.
Both women were judges in 2011 but say they were unaware that contestants had to be a dress size eight to 12 to qualify.
South Belfast Alliance MLA Anna Lo had been among the most vocal critics of the plans for the competition to take place at Stormont.
Ms Lo was concerned at the criteria requiring entrants to be aged between 18-24, be at least 5ft 7ins tall and be between a size eight and a size 12.
She said: "I completely condemn this event and would question the suitability of an event like this taking place at Stormont.
"This competition has very tight rules and we should not be encouraging girls and young women to think they are only deemed beautiful if they look a certain way. They are already faced with airbrushed images in magazines and newspapers without this superficial world coming to their doorsteps.
"We should be opening up opportunities for our young people, not telling a section of our 18-24-year-olds that they are simply not good enough. We should encourage them to work hard on their education and developing their hobbies and interests, without relying only on their appearance to help them get on in the world."