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WHY FIONA IS MY MISS UNIVERSE BY CONTEST BOSS; Beauty supremo breaks his silence.

Miss Ireland boss Kieran Murray last night broke his silence in the bitter bust-up involving the country's top three beauties.

Murray sparked a storm when he snubbed reigning Miss Ireland Niamh Redmond for the Miss Universe contest.

And he revealed he is sending third-placed Fiona Mulally to the pageant in Miami next month - because he thinks she has the best chance of winning.

Murray said: "My main objective is to win Miss Universe and I think Fiona Mulally is a very good possibility to do this.

"I intend to raise the standard and profile of the Miss Ireland pageant."

The Limerick businessman - who took over the Miss Ireland franchise five months ago - has faced a barrage of criticism since he announced his decision last week.

Shattered Dubliner Niamh, 19, could not understand why she was suddenly dumped from representing her country.

Her father Ron was angered and upset by Murray's treatment of his daughter and called for a full explanation.

The decision also baffled Miss Antrim Michelle Murphy, who came runner- up ahead of Mulally, Miss Limerick, in the Miss Ireland contest last year.

Michelle said yesterday: "I'm heartbroken from Niamh's point of view. I know she was looking forward to Miss Universe for so long and was busy preparing for it. It's ridiculous for her to be dropped at such short notice."

And, as she revealed exclusively in the Irish Mirror at the weekend, Michelle believes that if Niamh is being overlooked SHE should be travelling to Florida instead of Mulally.

The 22-year-old Belfast communications student said: "Maybe there are other reasons why they picked Fiona Mulally.

"Maybe it's because she's from Limerick, which coincidentally is where Kieran Murray is from."

Meanwhile, sparks are expected to fly at the launch of this year's Miss Ireland contest in the Burlington Hotel tomorrow evening, when Niamh will come face to face with Murray for the first time since he dramatically ditched her with a phone call.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 15, 1997
Words:325
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