| 8.6°C Dublin

Hotels refuse to host US-style children's beauty pageant

THREE Irish hotels have refused to host US-style child beauty pageants despite calls for events here.

Chiefs of the Texas-based Universal Royal Beauty Pageant, which has been running competitions across the US for 18 years, are hoping to host their first-ever contest in this country in November.

The move is likely to spark protests among some and already a number of hotels have turned down the business, fearing a backlash of protests from parents and regular customers.

But despite their difficulties in landing a venue, chiefs of the pageant claim they've been inundated by calls from more than 300 Irish parents, who "are desperate for us to come to Ireland".

Parents' groups and child psychologists will be relieved to learn that the pageant, which would include a contest for babies as young as 11 months and swimwear heats for toddlers, has yet to secure a venue.

But Texas-based organiser Annette Hill said she was still confident of running the pageant in November.

She admitted she will keep the venue top secret and will hire a security team, as she fears a negative reaction from the media and is worried the contest would be disrupted by protesters.

She said: "It's proving very difficult to find a venue in a hotel.

"Three hotels I'd been talking to have cancelled, because they're worried about protesters turning up.

"It amazes me, because this is no big deal in America where pageants take place every day. But the the media get on our backs as soon as we go outside America."

Young contestants who take part in Universal's competitions frequently wear fake painted nails, high heels, fishnet stockings and fake tans, while some ambitious mothers even insist they have botox treatments.