Niamh Walsh, Daily Mail (London), March 21, 2011
Stunning Miss Ireland Emma Waldron told yesterday in a forthright interview how she will never let ‘ignorant’ racists affect her love for Nigerian boyfriend Manners Oshafi.
Emma, 21, has been the victim of a vicious internet campaign because of her relationship with a black man and was forced to report an online poster targeting her with hateful and abusive racist comments.
She recently found herself at the centre of a row after one person branded her ‘disgusting’ for dating a black man.
And the stunning brunette told the Irish Mail on Sunday in an exclusive interview how one person went so far as to set up an account to target the couple.
‘One Twitter account was set up specifically to send me hateful comments.
‘But I blocked them and reported them so I don’t get the messages any more,’ she said.
The couple–who have been dating for nearly a year–have even earned their own Brangelina-like portmanteau.
Friends have dubbed them ‘Memmers’, a combination of Emma and Manners.
And such is the strength of their relationship that Emma and Manners have vowed not to allow themselves to be victimised.
‘We are a very strong couple and we don’t really care what people think.
‘We have not been affected at all by the remarks on Twitter as it just stems from people’s ignorance,’ said Manners.
Emma, who came fourth in the Miss World competition before Christmas, said that while she has encountered racism while out with Manners, 23, she refuses to let it get to her.
‘I have experienced negative comments on nights out and on social networking sites but it doesn’t bother me.
‘I will never let someone’s ignorance affect my love for Manners. He is the most amazing person I have ever met.
‘What colour my skin is doesn’t matter to him and what colour his skin is doesn’t matter to me.
‘What matters in friendship and love is the heart and soul of the person you are in a relationship with and his heart is so big and I’m lucky to be in it,’ she said.
The Kildare beauty said while everyone is entitled to their opinion, she feels that now that Ireland is a multi-cultural society, people should be educated.
‘I think that Ireland is so rich in many cultures and often times preconceived notions influence how people treat others who are of different colour, creed or sexuality.
‘We need to help break down the barriers that sometimes build up in our homes, schools and society. The way to do this is by educating people.’
Emma said that her parents’ openness and acceptance has had huge impact on her and her choices.
‘My grandmother is Swedish and my dad is part-Italian, so as a family we have always been open,’ she said.
‘They love Manners and his family love me. There really is no issue of colour at all. He’s just my boyfriend.’
Manners moved to Ireland eight years ago with his parents and four siblings. The family first settled in Athlone.
In a reflection of the changing nature of modern Ireland, he revealed that he was the first black boy in his school.
‘It was strange coming to Ireland, cold,’ he laughed.
‘But Ireland is a great country. Myself and my brother were the first black kids in the school in Athlone so we were seen as being different but good different.
‘We made good friends and were never bullied.’
Manners has just completed a master’s degree in telecommunications engineering at Dublin City University.
Now Emma’s boyfriend is helping her develop her website as she has her sights set on a career in television.
‘I am going back to St Pat’s [St Patrick’s College] this year as I want to qualify as a teacher but I would also like to do some TV work,’ she said.
The statuesque beauty is currently working with the makers of [reality TV show] Fade Street on an online fashion programme.
‘I have been doing an online fashion magazine show called Stylemania and it’s going really well. I would love to do some TV work and this is giving me great experience. It’s going really well.’
Emma, who carries out voluntary work with St Vincent de Paul, said that she feels compelled to speak out against bullies and racists.
‘I am very lucky in that I have a platform and I can use that. Yes, I have been the target of a bully but I am strong and have dealt with it.
‘It’s International Day Against Racism tomorrow and I think we all have a role to play to promote equality and raise awareness.
‘I can draw from my experiences and even if I help one person to overcome bullying, well, then that’s something,’ she said.
Emma, who is first violin with the Hibernian Symphony Orchestra, said that people need to be educated on race and different cultures.
‘I think it would be very naive of me to say that there is no racism in Ireland. Unfortunately there is.
‘If you socialise with people from different races and cultures you are less likely to show hatred towards them. But it still exists. I think people should make an effort to know people different from you.’
The good-looking couple have just bought a Labrador called Herbie and say that while they are very happy together they have no plans to set up home just yet.
‘Emma is terrific,’ said Manners. ‘We are different in some ways but in other ways we are like soul mates.
‘We think the same way and sometimes will finish each other’s sentences. But Emma is going back to college so we have no plans to move in just yet.’
The computer whizz also revealed that he has no problems with Emma’s work as a model.
‘Why would I? She always looks great in pictures. She is gorgeous. I’m a lucky man,’ he laughed.