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Dublin: 7°C Wednesday 28 September 2022

Woman delivers letter 'formally complimenting' Sydney Rose to RTÉ

Brianna Parkins said she wants a referendum to be held on repealing the Eighth Amendment.

Image: Saorlaith Ní Shuibhne

THE WOMAN BEHIND an open letter formally complimenting Brianna Parkins for the comments she made about abortion during the Rose of Tralee has handed it in to RTÉ.

During last week’s live broadcast on RTÉ One, the Sydney Rose told host Dáithí Ó Sé: “I think we can do better here in Ireland. I think it is time to give women a say on their own reproductive rights.

“I would love to see a referendum on the Eighth [Amendment] coming up soon. That would be my dream.”

Saorlaith Ní Shuibhne started the petition after hearing that RTÉ had received a number of formal complaints about Parkins’ remarks.

The petition received over 6,000 signatures. Ní Shuibhne personally handed it in to the state broadcaster yesterday.

As there is no formal way to compliment someone for making comments, Ní Shuibhne decided to write the open letter, which states:

“RTÉ does not appear to have a mechanism for offering formal messages of support, we ask that these signatures be assessed in the same manner as any complaints received.”

rose-23 Source: RTÉ.ie

“It bugs me that, because they are formal, complaints get so much attention,” Ní Shuibhne told, noting that when people agree with comments that are made they don’t have the same outlet to express this.

She said she understands a formal complaints process is needed for legal reasons, but said it might be worth RTÉ looking into introducing a formal process for people to “state if you agree with something” so the conversation can be more balanced.


In an email seen by, RTÉ told Ní Shuibhne it “does have a means for viewers and listeners to make positive comments (or indeed critical comments which are not formal complaints) on our output, by email, letter or phone call to RTÉ Feedback”.

The reply noted that a complaint about the fairness, impartiality and objectivity of a broadcast, as set out under the Broadcasting Act 2009, is “quite different from agreement or disagreement with a view which has been expressed on air”.

RTÉ suggested Ní Shuibhne forwards her letter to the Rose of Tralee International Festival. She said she intends to do this.

A spokesperson for the broadcaster told us: “We have received 24 formal complaints on the matter and, as this formal process in underway, RTÉ will not be making any comment.”

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Parkins’ comments started a debate about whether or not the Rose of Tralee was an appropriate venue to bring up the subject of abortion.

Mary Kennedy, chair of the judging panel of the Rose of Tralee, told the Irish Independent the festival was not the place for Parkins to air her views on abortion as it’s not a “political platform”.

However, Rose of Tralee chief executive Anthony O’Gara later said he was “delighted” Parkins had spoken out, saying it’s fair for contestants to express their opinions.

Last week, Parkins told she found it a “little confusing” that some Roses had been asked their opinion on abortion in private and that process had been judged, only for her then to hear that her public interview was not the place to air her views on the subject.

“I do find it disappointing that for a festival that has been out there for years trying to dispel this ‘lovely girl competition’ image and saying that it does empower women and it’s good for women and then to turn around and actually say you can’t have opinions on women’s issues and women’s rights and an opinion over the control of your own body.”

The Eighth Amendment acknowledges the right to life of the unborn, equating it with the mother’s right to life.

A Citizens’ Assembly is due to consider holding a referendum on the amendment, and other topics, when it convenes in October.

Read: “You let me down” – Sydney Rose lifts lid on festival reaction to her abortion remarks

Opinion: A response to the Sydney Rose: We never had to pretend

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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