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Eurovision

The tackiest night in Irish television is upon us once more. 

Every year, we send an act to some European capital to sing and dance onstage alongside the rest of the EU in the hopes of taking home the trophy and hosting the same thing the following year in our capital. 

We've won the thing a record-breaking seven times (and three years back-to-back which is INSANE) and although the last few years have seen our luck dissipate, we still enjoy a good Eurovision party every May.

This year, however, isn't like any other.

The 64th edition of the competition is set to take place this Saturday in Tel Aviv, Israel.  

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So what exactly is the boycott and why is it happening?  

It centers on Israel's alleged human rights abuses towards the Palestinian people, with Gaza-based Palestinian Artists Association has since accused Israel of using the event to “perpetuate oppression, promote injustice or whitewash a brutal apartheid regime”.

There has been a petition signed by many famous faces who say that by letting Israel host the Eurovision, we are supporting the violation of Palestinian human rights.

Among those who have signed it are band Wolf Alice, Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters while a counter-letter has been penned by Stephen Fry, Sharon Osbourne, Marina Abramovic, and Scooter Braun.

The letter states that ''Spirit of togetherness is under attack by those calling to boycott Eurovision 2019 because it is being held in Israel, subverting the spirit of the contest and turning it from a tool of unity into a weapon of division.''

The crux of the whole thing boils down to the fact that those who are for the competition to go ahead are saying that they are so because the contest is not supposed to be political in any way and they are not performing for politicians.

Instead, they are for putting on a show for the people, the audience, for entertainment and unity.

It will be broadcast by both RTE and BBC and both stations have issued statements to this effect. 

RTE said, ''As a long-running non-political, entertainment event, the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) is designed to bring audiences and countries together. RTÉ is confident that the European Broadcasting Union and the host broadcaster will take all necessary steps to safeguard the non-political character of the event throughout the organization of the competition.''

BBC meanwhile echoed a similar sentiment.

They said, ''The competition has always supported the values of friendship, inclusion, tolerance, and diversity and we do not believe it would be appropriate to use the BBC’s participation for political reasons. Because of this, we will be taking part in this year’s event. The host country is determined by the rules of the competition, not the BBC.”

The irony here is why their point might be seen as acceptable where the host country is involved in minor conflict or political unease when it comes to the case in Israel, it's not the same.

Rory Cowen of Mrs. Browns' Boys' has been vocal on social media and tv in his support for the contest taking place in Tel Aviv and he tweeted, ''We were there in Russia, in Turkey, in Azerbaijan, in the UK, etc. We went to perform in many countries that were involved in conflicts. It would be discriminatory to single out just one not to go to'' to which he received a reply saying, ''Israel is not involved in a conflict. The Israeli regime is involved in the systematic extermination of the Palestinian people. Quite a different thing altogether.''

Ireland's entrant Sarah McTernan is getting ready to take to the stage for tomorrow nights second semi-final.

The Clare native, who will sing 22, had to hit back at the massive backlash she has gotten for going to Tel Aviv.

She said, ''Everybody has their opinion on the issue, which is totally fine, but we’re about the music, and about spreading the love and the music, and that’s what Eurovision is about. We’re here, and we’re loving it.''

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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There is a really strong for-against that appears to be happening in the media.

Madonna, who is set to perform at the live final this Saturday, is determined to perform despite the loud callings for a boycott.

The numbers are low for fans travelling from Ireland to Tel Aviv – Diarmuid Furlong, president of Ireland’s Eurovision Fan Club confirmed that there would only be 30.

And overall, there will only be 5,000 or so foreign fans in Tel Aviv, much less than hoped for by organisers…these figures speak for themselves.

What will you be doing this Saturday – tuning in or blocking it out?

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Happy Friday everyone.

We've made it through another week and its time to put the feet up and relax in front of – what else? – the Late Late.

This weeks array of guests is a great mix and fans of the Eurovision are in for a treat.

First up, TV star  Baz Ashmawy will join Tubs to talk all things about his new show where he helps participants to embark on a journey of discovery to achieve something they wouldn’t have thought was possible.

Baz will tell the unlikely story of dairy farmer Jimmy Byrne from Louth (among others), who wants to put on a play when nobody is taking him seriously.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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U's coming up to Eurovision time and we couldn't be more excited.

Its been a quarter of a century since Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids were victorious at thPoint Theatre in Dublin, and to celebrate, we’ll have a special performance of the song by Paul Harrington, Niamh Farrell from Ham Sandwich, Ruth-Anne Cunningham, Ryan O’Shaughnessy and the Line-Up Choir.

Linda Martin, Paul Harrington, Rory Cowan and Mary Coughlan will also join Ryan to discuss this year’s contest, and Sarah McTernan will perform Ireland’s 2019 entry, 22.

Ahead of the Irish Open in July, Paul McGinley will be on to discuss how preparations are coming along, and why he wants this tournament to be the biggest one yet.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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As well as that, the Benhaffaf twins, Hassan and Hussein, made international headlines this week after Hollywood actor Tom Hanks sent them a personalised Toy Story video.

They will be on the show to talk about how they felt when they saw the message, and we’re also joined by Míceál O'Hurley who reached out to Tom Hanks to organise the surprise.

We will also hear the story of Colette Ryan, who was just two years old when she disappeared while on holiday with her family 44 years ago, from the then Mosney holiday camp in Co Meath.

World Autism Day is this month and to celebrate, we’ll also be meeting Nicholas Ryan Purcell who is a budding filmmaker with Asperger syndrome, and Ryan will be joined by three mothers and their three children to discuss the realities of living with autism.

It's a jam-packed line-up and we can't wait to sit back and relax tonight in front of it.

It's all on The Late Late Show, RTÉ One, Friday, April 26 at 9.35pm.

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It's almost that time of the year again.

Ok, so it's massively cheesy but you'd be lying if you said that you didn't look forward to a night where the whole country joins together to cheer our little island on as they compete in a parade of ridiculousness. 

Now RTE has unveiled the tune to which we will be pinning our hopes to as it represents Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019.

It's titled 22, was penned by Janieck, Marcia “Misha” Sondeijker and Roulsen and will be sang by Sarah McTernan. 

Sarah is delighted to be taking to the stage for Ireland.

She said, ''It’s like an early birthday present! My 25th birthday is next Monday and if you’d told me last year that I’d be chosen to represent my country at Eurovision, performing the song for the first time on Dancing with the Stars this Sunday, and then flying to Tel Aviv on my birthday to record a postcard, I would have told you – you were crazy!”

She continued, ''My Mom, Nana, family and friends are super excited for me – they’re shocked and very proud. I can’t wait to teach my biggest fan – my 2 ½ year old daughter Mia- all the lyrics to “22”!”

The song will be played on radio for the first time at 9am on Friday morning on The Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ Radio 1.

She will aso be interviewed on The Nicky Byrne Show with Jenny Greene on 2FM at 12:30pm on Friday, and by Ray D’Arcy on RTÉ Radio 1 at 3pm.

If that wasn't enough, Dancing with the Stars is having a special Eurovision Song Contest themed programme this Sunday and Sarah will be performing the song live for the first time, to give us all an idea of what it will be like at the real thing in Tel Aviv.

The Eurovision Semi Final in Tel Aviv takes place on Thursday May 16, with the grand final taking place on Saturday May 18.

We are seriously excited – come on Ireland. 

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Last night's Eurovision final was one of the most exciting in recent memory. 

Not only were Ireland competing in it for the first time in five years, but the wacky performances, gorgeous outfits and the odd stage invader made it a spectacle to watch. 

As expected, Irish folk gathered to watch the events unfold on screen, and while the show was amazing, the real action was all happening on Twitter.

With disappointment, anguish, and plenty of Father Ted references, here are some of the best reactions to last night's Eurovision final.  

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This doesn't exactly come as a shocker, but placing well in the Eurovision Song Contest may be linked to people feeling really, really good!

The whole competition is full of things that bring smiles to our faces – glitter, singing, dancing, more glitter, and spectacular costumes (often covered in glitter).

A new study conducted by Imperial College London has found that the better countries do in the competition, the higher their citizens' life satisfaction.

 

Even completely bombing the contest was associated with better life satisfaction than not participating at all, the researchers found.

The results surprised the research team, who apparently decided to do the BMC Public Health-published study all because of a joke.

"This finding emerged from a jokey conversation in our department. Our 'day job' involves investigating the effect of public policies, environmental factors and economic conditions on people's lifestyle and health," Dr Filippos Filippidis, lead author from the School of Public Health at Imperial, told Science Daily.

 

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"Our department employs people from lots of different countries and around the time of the Eurovision Song Contest we were chatting about whether the competition could also affect a country's national well-being. We looked into it and were surprised to see there may be a link."

In order to obtain these results, the team examined data from more than 160,000 people from 33 European countries.

The participants all completed a questionnaire that is part of the Eurobarometer survey, and which includes queries about the individual's life satisfaction.

The researchers then looked at the data from around the time of the Eurovision Song Contest from 2009 to 2015. Their results showed that people reported more life satisfaction if their country did well in the competition that year.

As well, the team found that a ten-place jump on the final scoreboard (say getting 4th place instead of 14th) was associated with a four percent higher likelihood of feeling satisfied with life.

To make matters more interesting, even people in countries that placed poorly had a 13 percent higher chance of life satisfaction than those whose countries didn't participate.

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Picture via GIPHY

While the researchers emphasise that this is an association, not necessarily causation, they said that others' work shows how large national events can impact national morale.

"It increases the amount of good feeling around, even among people who are not particularly interested in the competition," Dr Filippidis observed. 

"I remember when Greece won in 2005 — in the weeks that followed people seemed to be in a better mood."

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Ryan O'Shaughnessy's heartfelt performance earned Ireland a spot at this year's eurovision final, however the dancers that accompanied him on stage have stirred up some controversy in certain parts of the world. 

According to reports, Ireland's entry, which depicted a same-sex love story, was edited out by a Chinese broadcaster. 

Mango TV has been airing the Eurovision Song Contest in China for the past three years, however some changes were made ahead of this year's semi-final broadcast. 

 

COME ON IREAND!!!

A post shared by Ryan O'Shaughnessy (@ryan_acoustic) on

As well as completely removing Ireland's performance, the television station also refused to feature Albania's entry due to a regulation which bans anyone with tattoos from appearing on TV. 

Introduced in January this year, the rule states that "that programs should not feature actors with tattoos [or depict] hip hop culture, sub-culture (non-mainstream culture) and dispirited culture (decadent culture)”.

Meanwhile, the Russian commentator ignored the theme of Ireland's performance and instead told viewers that the song was about "true male friendship."

Despite the controversy, Ryan's backing dancers, Alan McGrath and Kevin O'Dwyer, say that have been overwhelmed by the support they have received so far. 

Speaking about the experience, Alan said: "It's an incredible feeling. You can't even remember it after you come off stage, it's that breathtaking. The feeling is overwhelming, you just go into your own little world for the three minutes on stage."

Ryan O'Shaughnessy represents Ireland in the final of the 2018 Eurovision this Saturday at 8pm on RTE One, marking the first time in five years that Ireland have made it to this stage of the competition.  

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RTÉ has been combing through 300 songs, all submitted for consideration to be our entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2018, to find the tune that will set us apart.

Our number has been chosen: a beautiful ballad called 'Together'. The track was written by Ryan O'Shaughnessy, Mark Caplice and Laura Elizabeth Hughes, and is set to be performed by Ryan.

We wouldn't be surprised if you recognise his name, as Ryan has been on our screens for years now. The talented singer-songwriter played Mark Halpin in RTÉ's Fair City for nine years.

The 25-year-old studied at Billy Barrie at the age of four, later focusing on songwriting during his time at BIMM Dublin.

Ryan can't stay away from the small screen, as he also appeared on the finals of both The Voice of Ireland and Britain’s Got Talent.

His original song 'No Name' has over 45 million hits on YouTube, and his 2012 self-titled EP reached number one in Irish charts.

We can't wait for Ryan to show off just how much talent Ireland has on May 8 at the Eurovision Semi Final in Lisbon! The grand final will take place on May 12.

"As one of three songwriters on 'Together', I’m delighted it has been chosen to represent Ireland in Eurovision 2018, and on top of that, to be asked to perform for my country is an absolute honour," Ryan gushed. 

 

A post shared by Ryan O'Shaughnessy (@ryan_acoustic) on

"I plan on doing Ireland proud by bringing a song and performance to Eurovision that we haven’t seen since the days of ‘Rock and Roll Kids'. 

"Last year’s winning song from Salvador Sobral was a beautiful, melodic piece, and I think it may have carved the way for the Eurovision to revert back to being a song contest where true songs can flourish.

"I can’t wait to get onto that stage and perform an honest piece for millions of people."

Here's hoping Ryan can bring back a win! 

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Did you tune into the Eurovision this year?

New figures released by the Freedom of Information Act reveal that RTÉ spent a massive €331,000 to send Brendan Murray over to the Eurovision Song Contest.

The figures, which were released to The Herald, saw that the entry fee was €84,500, however that does not include labour costs.

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16 people flew over to the Ukraine with Brendan, which included his tour manager, a vocal coach, a photographer, five backing singers, and RTÉ’s head of press.

As most of us know, the former Hometown star failed to take Ireland to the final, but RTÉ believe that the event gave viewers some great entertainment.

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A spokesperson for the national broadcaster said: “This year, an average 273,000 viewers tuned in over the course of the three nights of the contest, representing a 21pc share.

“[This is] excellent value for money for RTÉ and for Irish television licence-fee payers”.

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We have to admit that our most recent Eurovision bids have not gone down well.

And it looks like these Dublin lads want to up the game a bit by singing a song that everyone knows and loves.

Indie-pop band, Fallen Lights, headed out to Father Ted's house in Ennis, Co. Clare to sing a brilliant rendition of My Lovely Horse.

And, we have to say, they really pulled it off. So much so, that we reeeally want them to be our next Eurovision entry.

Fallen Lights are currently doing a tour around Ireland. Tonight they are playing in Offaly, with their gigs ending in Dublin at the end of this month.

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Last night saw the return of the Eurovision final to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, and although Ireland weren't fortunate enough to secure a place in this year's competition, our Twitter game was still on point. 

After 53 years or trying, Portugal finally came out on top for the first time with Salvador Sobral's performance of Amar Pelos Dois.

Here's some of the best reactions to last night's cheesy, glitter fuelled extravaganza.

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Noughties pop sensation Samantha Mumba has thrown her hat in the ring to represent Ireland in the Eurovision song contest 2018. 

Ireland’s Eurovision song contest entry for this year failed to qualify for the finals.

Brendan Murray from Galway sang Dying to Try, which unfortunately didn't take us through to the finals for the fourth year running. 

In spite of winning more times than any other country, Ireland hasn’t had a win since 1996, so sending Samantha to the host country might not be a bad idea. 

The Irish Times writer Jenn Gannon suggested that Samantha might be the type to take home the Eurovision trophy, and the singer agreed in a retweet.

 

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'I would LOVE to,' she exclaimed in response.

Come on people, lets make this happen, we need to see a rendition of Gotta Tell You on the European stage. 

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Unfortunately, Ireland failed to secure a place in the Eurovision Final last night.

As expected, Irish folk gathered to watch the events unfold on screen, and while the show was amazing, the real action was all happening on Twitter.

With disappointment, anguish, and plenty of Father Ted references, here are some of the best reactions to Ireland's Eurovision bid: 

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