Belfast Telegraph

Shocked Miss Northern Ireland hopeful told mums can't enter competition

Leanne McDowell’s moment of triumph as she wins the title
Leanne McDowell’s moment of triumph as she wins the title
Tiffany Brien from Holywood after winning the Miss Northern Ireland final at the Europa Hotel, Belfast. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Emma is crowned Miss Northern Ireland 2016
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Model citizen: Miss Northern Ireland 2016 Emma Carswell celebrates her crowning
Claire Williamson

By Claire Williamson

A woman has told of her shock after she learned you are not allowed to enter Miss Northern Ireland if you have a child.

Dearbhail Brogan (21) from Co Down was told she could not attend a heat for the competition after she told organisers she had a daughter.

The Miss Northern Ireland competition is governed by the Miss World competition which sets the rules and is organised here by ACA Models which is owned by Alison Clarke.

On the Miss Northern Ireland website it is included in the rules that a contestant should be someone "who has never given birth to a child".

Dearbhail told the BBC Nolan show she was "shocked" by the rule and felt "disheartened".

She said: "We saw the advertisement in the Sunday paper and it looked like a good opportunity, my friend entered me into the competition.

"I was called back and invited to a heat and they said they needed to confirm a few details and one of the questions was do you have any children.

"I said yes and they said 'I'm sorry it's in our rules that nobody with children can enter the competition.'

"At first I was shocked. I said 'it's not your fault' and after I thought about it I thought the rule was wrong. I felt disheartened.

"Life doesn't end when you have children and there seems to be a bit of a stigma around that.

Pacemaker press 16/05/2016 Miss Northern Ireland launch at The Europa hotel in Belfast. All 26 of the Miss NI hopeful's put the finishing touch on their appearance for tonight's Miss NI final at The Europa hotel. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 16/05/2016 Miss Northern Ireland launch at The Europa hotel in Belfast. All 26 of the Miss NI hopeful's put the finishing touch on their appearance for tonight's Miss NI final at The Europa hotel. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 16/05/2016 Miss Northern Ireland launch at The Europa hotel in Belfast. All 26 of the Miss NI hopeful's put the finishing touch on their appearance for tonight's Miss NI final at The Europa hotel. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 16/05/2016 Miss Northern Ireland launch at The Europa hotel in Belfast. All 26 of the Miss NI hopeful's put the finishing touch on their appearance for tonight's Miss NI final at The Europa hotel. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 16/05/2016 Miss Northern Ireland launch at The Europa hotel in Belfast. All 26 of the Miss NI hopeful's put the finishing touch on their appearance for tonight's Miss NI final at The Europa hotel. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 16/05/2016 Miss Northern Ireland launch at The Europa hotel in Belfast. All 26 of the Miss NI hopeful's put the finishing touch on their appearance for tonight's Miss NI final at The Europa hotel. Pictured are Miss Ballymena Gabrielle Morrison with Europa Hotel doorman Hugh Philips and Miss Cookstown Enya Sullivan. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 16/05/2016 Miss Northern Ireland launch at The Europa hotel in Belfast. All 26 of the Miss NI hopeful's put the finishing touch on their appearance for tonight's Miss NI final at The Europa hotel. Pictured are Miss Cookstown Enya Sullivan with Miss World Mireia Lalaguna Royo of Spain and Miss Ballymena Gabrielle Morrison. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 16/05/2016 Miss Northern Ireland launch at The Europa hotel in Belfast. All 26 of the Miss NI hopeful's put the finishing touch on their appearance for tonight's Miss NI final at The Europa hotel. Pictured are Miss Ballymena Gabrielle Morrison with Europa Hotel doorman Hugh Philips and Miss Cookstown Enya Sullivan. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Miss NI - Northern Ireland - 16th May 2016 Miss NI 2016 - Finals , Chloe Robinson, Danielle Callaghan , Courtney Cameron, Shauneen McNeill and Emma Nicholson Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Pacemaker press 16/05/2016 Miss Northern Ireland launch at The Europa hotel in Belfast. All 26 of the Miss NI hopeful's put the finishing touch on their appearance for tonight's Miss NI final at The Europa hotel. Pictured are Miss Cookstown Enya Sullivan with Miss World Mireia Lalaguna Royo of Spain and Miss Ballymena Gabrielle Morrison. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Miss NI - Northern Ireland - 16th May 2016 Miss NI 2016 - Finals , Chloe Robinson, Danielle Callaghan , Courtney Cameron, Shauneen McNeill and Emma Nicholson Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Miss NI - Northern Ireland - 16th May 2016 Miss NI 2016 - Finals Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Miss NI - Northern Ireland - 16th May 2016 Miss NI 2016 - Finals , Jasmine O'Kane , Sarah Jayne McGoldrick, Gabrielle Morrison, Leah Nelson, Megan Geddis Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Miss NI - Northern Ireland - 16th May 2016 Miss NI 2016 - Finals - Emma Carswell , Toni Gregg, Lauryn Greer, Ellen Donohue and Chloe Lemon Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Miss NI - Northern Ireland - 16th May 2016 Miss NI 2016 - Finals , Sarah Cunningham , Cathrine Todd, Lauren Brown, Hope Mairs, Enya Sullivan, Ruth Bleakley Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Miss NI - Northern Ireland - 16th May 2016 Miss NI 2016 - Finals , Sarah Cunningham , Cathrine Todd, Lauren Brown, Hope Mairs, Enya Sullivan, Ruth Bleakley Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Miss NI - Northern Ireland - 16th May 2016 Miss NI 2016 - Finals Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Miss NI - Northern Ireland - 16th May 2016 Miss NI 2016 - Finals , Chloe Moore, Caoimhe MeCabe, Sarah Wallace , Nicola Montgomery and Dione Hull Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Miss NI - Northern Ireland - 16th May 2016
Miss NI 2016 - Finals - Emma Carswell , Mireia Lalaguna Royo, Toni Gregg Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Miss NI - Northern Ireland - 16th May 2016
Miss NI - Northern Ireland - 16th May 2016 Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Miss NI - Northern Ireland - 16th May 2016 Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Miss NI - Northern Ireland - 16th May 2016 Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye

"I just don't understand the rule at all. I know if you win there is responsibilities and travel obligations but there is other mums out there who work jobs away from home and work unsociable hours and they do it.

Dearbhail added: "I just think it's wrong. I don't think it's up to them to decide what the mum can or cannot do or what they should be entitled to. Having a child should give you more of a drive to succeed because it's going to benefit your family.

"A lot of mums have proved they can do that and there shouldn't be any discrimination from them doing that."

In a statement issued by ACA Models it said that while the rules are set by the Miss World organisation and they "must abide" by them - they would be happy to welcome Dearbhail on to the books of their model agency.

It said: "At the International meeting of the License Holders 3 years ago this question was put to the License Holders and it was unanimously agreed that for a woman who held the title to be working away from her child/children would not be in the interest of a mother or a child to be taken away for one year.

"This was a unanimous decision made by all nations competing.

"However ACA Models would be delighted to welcome Dearbhail or any other young mother on the books of the model agency . We currently work with many many young mothers and fathers throughout Northern Ireland."

It said within their joining process and criteria to be a model "having children is not an obstacle".

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