Rose of Tralee protestor vows to stage more protests in Ireland

The founder of Fathers4Justice says his decision to run on the stage during the Rose of Tralee TV selection was justified.

Rose of Tralee protestor vows to stage more protests in Ireland

The founder of Fathers4Justice says his decision to run on the stage during the Rose of Tralee TV selection was justified.

Matt O'Connor, interrupted the live show during the Cavan Rose Lisa O'Reilly's interview with Dáithí Ó Sé, dressed as a priest before being escorted off stage.

He says the group has a responsibility to raise the issue of rights of fathers in Ireland, which he says affects 100,000 children.

Mr O'Connor says this is the first of many high-profile protests planned by the group.

He said: "The contest itself - the Rose of Tralee - has widely been panned as being a sexist and outdated beauty pageant; but it's an issue that we thought needed to be aired and it's the first of many protests we're going to be staging across Ireland."

Speaking to Radio Kerry, Mr O'Connor also rejected the comparison to fears created by recent terrorist incidents.

Founder Matt O'Connor. Pic: @F4JIreland on Twitter.
Founder Matt O'Connor. Pic: @F4JIreland on Twitter.

He said: "I hope you're not suggesting that we're going to give up our lawful right to peaceful protest.

"That right to protest is actually enshrined in law. We have a right to peaceful protest, this was a peaceful protest."

When asked if he was sorry for interrupting Lisa O'Reilly's interview, Matt O'Connor said: "Lets put it in context - it's a beauty pageant, not somebody's holy communion.

"But I was told - and I hope it's the case - that she carried on, the show carried on...and fair play to her. It's disconcerting, but let's remember this was a peaceful protest, it was nothing more dramatic than that, a couple of seconds on television, let's put it in that context."

Meanwhile, the Rose at the centre of the stage, Lisa Reilly, says she was close to tears when the incident occurred.

However, she says she did not want to let her supporters down.

She said: "I was very, very close to bursting out crying, I'm not going to lie, and Dáithí gave me a bit of a squeeze. Then everyone started to stand up for an ovation, especially the escorts and the Roses.

"That gave me a push and I said 'Lisa you need to do this, people are watching'. It was the first time in eight years a Cavan Rose was in the Rose of Tralee so I wasn't going to let people down."

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