Organizers of a contentious U.S. child beauty pageant have suffered a major blow in their bid to stage their first-ever Irish show after a hotelier said he was no longer willing to host the event.
Texas-based Universal Royal Beauty Pageant announced last week via Facebook that a Cork hotel would host the glitzy €20,000 beauty contest in September.
But pageant chiefs have since admitted they had been forced to source another venue in Dublin, after the Cork hotelier pulled the plug on the event.
Universal Royal boss Annette Hill said that sourcing a venue for the controversial pageant has proved a major headache, and admitted that 28 hotels across Ireland had to date snubbed her offer to host a show.
But she insisted the beauty contest, which will be open to "babies, toddlers and teens,” will take place as previously announced on September 21, but at another undisclosed venue in Dublin.
"We had booked a hotel in Cork a few months ago, but they've now told me that they can no longer host us because they're overbooked, which seems a bit strange,” Hill said.
"I think the hotel doesn't want to be involved in any media craziness around the show and they may be worried that any bad publicity would ruin their business.
"We've found a lot of hotels in Ireland have been scared of a backlash from the media and we've now approached 28 different hotels to find a venue.
"But I've secured a hotel in Dublin and have another one lined up just in case. The show will definitely be going ahead."
Hill also claimed she had received up to 4,000 emails from Irish parents who have expressed an interest in entering their children in the pageant since she first announced the show's date last month.
She said she will have a security team in place to safeguard the Irish event and added that U.S. pageant star, eight-year-old Eden Wood, is still on course to feature in the Dublin show which will include a swimwear heat for youngsters.
Universal Royal is the pageant that has featured most on popular fly-on-the-wall reality TV series Toddlers & Tiaras on cable channel TLC.
Young contestants who take part in Universal's pageants frequently wear painted nails, high heels, fishnet stockings and fake tans, while some ambitious mothers insist they have Botox treatments and camouflage any gaps in their teeth by wearing fitted, fake whiter-than-white sets that clip over the top of their own.
Children's watchdogs and child psychologists in Ireland have been vocal in their opposition to child beauty pageants, warning that the long-term effects on youngsters who take part could be devastating.