'Derry not in Ireland' award nominee told

Grainne Kelly Image copyright Grainne Kelly
Image caption Businesswoman Grainne Kelly said she is not making a political statement

A Londonderry businesswoman said she was disqualified from being a finalist in an upcoming Irish awards ceremony because she lives in Northern Ireland.

Grainne Kelly, CEO of Bubblebum, got an email saying she had been nominated in the Irish Women's Awards.

Two weeks later, she said she was informed there had been a mistake.

Organisers said nominees must be from the Republic of Ireland but there would soon be a separate category for Northern Ireland

"I tried to explain to them whether you live in northern or southern Ireland that is the island of Ireland," Ms Kelly said.

She told BBC Radio Foyle: "I got an email to say I was a finalist. I had not put in any award submission so I thought that was nice.

"They said the award should be happening on 21 January, could I please share on social media and we went ahead and did that."

She emailed the company when there was no further communication from them.

In their response, she said they asked in which county she lived.

"I said Derry. They said that's not in Ireland that's in Northern Ireland.

"They said: ''Very sorry but you can't enter the awards because you have to live in Ireland'.

'Not inclusive'

"I went back and said: 'The last time I checked I do live in Ireland'.

"I said: 'I think you'll find Northern Ireland is also in Ireland.'"

The businesswoman said she is not making a political point but "whether you live in northern or southern Ireland that is the island of Ireland."

She said the awards should be rebranded.

"It has got to be the southern or Republic of Ireland awards if you are not inclusive of the whole island."

A spokesperson for the Irish Women's Awards said: "When people nominate and vote it is difficult to identify where nominees are based.

"As this is the Irish Women's Awards, nominees must be from the Republic of Ireland to participate.

"This criteria is vital as we will soon be opening the nomination link for the first Northern Ireland Women's Awards."

The organisers said they would contact Grainne during the summer when the campaign is active.

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