Tuesday 18 June 2019

'Perhaps it's time for National Song contest to come back' - Marty Whelan on Eurovision

Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

RTE may revert to holding a National Song contest in a bid to reclaim our Eurovision glory after Ireland failed to qualify for the final for the fourth year in a row.

The station is due to carry out its annual review into the competition over the summer and one possibility is to let the public decide which song goes forward.

Last year saw that process scrapped after Nicky Byrne was chosen as our entry by Michael Kealy, the head of Ireland's Eurovision delegation, while Brendan Murray was selected this year.

But RTE's Eurovision commentator Marty Whelan said those involved in the contest will be discussing how they can improve on our performance for 2018.

He said it was "very upsetting" commentating on the Eurovision final when Ireland wasn't in it.

"We're having a meeting in a few weeks' time about it. But the point is, we can have meetings till we're blue in the face but all we can do is have a plan. It doesn't mean it's going to work," he told The Herald.

"It just means, 'here's another idea.' Brendan was good this year and the song was decent. But it didn't get through. It's four years in a row and we don't need that again. We need to be in the final so we're just going to see if we can come up with another formula."

Marty, who has covered the contest for 19 years, said that Ireland is "doing nothing wrong".

"We're doing the best we can. There's nothing wrong with it. This year, you could say, 'How could a song from Portugal, sung in Portuguese - how could it win? But the song was gorgeous and it won. That doesn't normally happen. Normally it's pyrotechnics and dancers and mini-skirts and shouting and roaring. It wasn't that this year, it was different.

"So you just try and send the best you can.

"Maybe it's time for a National Song contest again, maybe it isn't.

"Maybe we need to make a song ourselves and those of us who have an involvement over the years need to sit in a room and have a conversation."

Marty was speaking after a live broadcast of Lyric FM during the opening day of the Bloom 2017 festival in Phoenix Park.

Huge numbers of gardening fans of all ages, poured through the gates of the festival, which was opened by President Higgins.

Running until June 6, it includes 22 show gardens, 50 floral displays and 110 food and drink stands.

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