Catholic cleric: We’d never have approved make-up PR campaign

Ernesta Vegute from Warrenpoint and Rachel Hughes from Armagh pose outside the doors of Newry Roman Catholic Cathedral
Ernesta Vegute from Warrenpoint and Rachel Hughes from Armagh pose outside the doors of Newry Roman Catholic Cathedral

A leading clergyman has told the News Letter he gave “no consent” for his place of worship to be used in a cosmetics promotion campaign featuring scantily-clad models.

The canon of Newry Catholic Cathedral was speaking after a PR firm sent out images of two young women posing atop the building’s steps.

Caption as sent by Michelle McTernan PR: "Venus models Ernesta Vegute from Warrenpoint and Rachel Hughes from Armagh are thanking God that LA based makeup collection Lime Crime is now available in Co Down."

Caption as sent by Michelle McTernan PR: "Venus models Ernesta Vegute from Warrenpoint and Rachel Hughes from Armagh are thanking God that LA based makeup collection Lime Crime is now available in Co Down."

An accompanying piece of advertising claimed that the pair were “thanking God” that a certain brand of American cosmetics was now available at a shop in the city.

The News Letter showed the photographs and the advert text to staff at the cathedral itself, which stands on Hill Street in the city.

Canon Francis Brown said in a statement: “The Cathedral of St Patrick and St Colman is a privately-owned property and no consent was sought to use these premises in these circumstances – nor would it have been granted.”

The public relations firm which had sent out the pictures and associated text was Michelle McTernan PR.

Ms McTernan had issued them in a bid to promote “Lime Crime” products at Hill Street’s Makeup Pro Store.

When Canon Brown’s position was put to her, she responded with a statement on behalf of the shop, which said that they had been seeking a “creative, dramatic photograph with an artistic background... It certainly was not our intention to offend anyone”.

Meanwhile Jim Corr, the photographer, said simply: “I wanted a dramatic, beautiful pic with a background to match and got one.”

Canon Ian Ellis, editor of The Church of Ireland Gazette, said: “I entirely understand and concur with the cathedral’s stance on this matter.

“Everyone is welcome to church but in turn the church should at least be asked for permission before it is used for a commercial promotion.

“I hope the young ladies come back, but for a better purpose next time.”