#SydneyRose Brianna Parkins calls for a referendum to repeal Ireland's eighth amendment, and sparks a social media storm...
The Rose of Tralee competition in Ireland doesn't traditionally find itself at the epicentre of a social media storm, but when Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins took the stage during Monday night's final, the festival took an unexpected political turn.
Speaking to presenter Dáithí Ó Sé, Brianna used her stage time to challenge Ireland's controversial eighth amendment, a law which criminalises abortion in the country.
'I think we can do better here in Ireland,' Brianna stated. '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 coming up soon. That would be my dream.'
The 25-year-old, who hails from Australia but with Irish heritage, also spoke openly about domestic violence, women's rights, and how she feels women all over the world are being let down.
'In Australia we just had our funding cut for domestic violence shelters, so we're having women who are being turned away on a nightly basis,' she explained. 'We're having women sleeping on police station floors.'
Her brave words were met with cheers and applause from the audience.
Ireland's eighth amendment to the constitution (passed in 1983) guarantees the 'right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.'
The law has always been subject to major contraversy and accounts for thousands of women taking a trip to the UK every year to carry out legal abortions, often with no financial and emotional support.
Pro-choice activists have been calling on government to repeal the eighth for years, and Brianna's speech on Monday night only highlighted what for many Irish women is a very real, and very damaging issue. And while the Rose of Tralee competition describes itself as apolitical, the social media support for the #SydneyRose following her speech has been astonishing, with many women taking comfort in the fact that someone is finally speaking up.
Following the competition, Brianna tweeted a picture thanking everyone for their support. She may not be the crowned winner, but she has certainly captured some hearts.