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Last year's Sydney Rose has called for feminists and LGBT women to enter the Rose of Tralee
Brianna Parkins won praise last year for speaking out about the Eighth Amendment onstage.

LAST YEAR’S SYDNEY Rose Brianna Parkins wants “all feminist, mixed race, queer and trans ladies” to think about applying for this year’s Rose of Tralee festival.

Parkins, who works as a journalist for Australian network ABC, won praise on social media for speaking out about the Repeal The 8th movement onstage.

After touching on a range of women’s issues including cuts to domestic violence charities, she told host Dáithí Ó Sé that she’d love to see a referendum on abortion in Ireland:

I think it’s time to give women a say over their reproductive rights. I would love to see a referendum on the eighth amendment come up soon. That would be my dream.

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Everyone was greatly surprised to see a Rose getting political – including festival chair Mary Kennedy, who told the Irish Independent that the festival was not the place for Parkins to speak about abortion.

Parkins told that she was “disappointed and confused” by Kennedy’s response, especially as some Roses had been asked their views on abortion in private:

I do find it disappointing that for a festival that has been out there for years trying to dispel this ‘lovely girl competition’ image, saying it does empower women and is good for women… to turn around and actually say you can’t have opinions on women’s issues and women’s rights.

Nevertheless, Parkins’ appearance challenged long-held opinions on who and what a Rose could be – and she wants that to continue.

Earlier this morning, she tweeted that her time as Sydney Rose was coming to an end, and asked “all boss ladies” to take up the mantle.

She then opened the call to include “feminist, mixed race, queer and trans ladies” all over the world:

Parkins herself was inspired to enter the Rose of Tralee by previous winner Maria Walsh, who spoke out about being gay after she was crowned in 2014.

Fancy carrying the torch for them? You can apply for this year’s festival here.

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Previously: The Sydney Rose is winning praise for speaking out on Repeal The 8th>