RTÉ bets on Nicky Byrne to return Ireland to Eurovision glory
Watch the video for the song 'Sunlight'...
With the possibility of Sweden usurping our unofficial title of 'Ultimate Eurovision Champions', RTÉ has decided to pull up its socks and ditch the Eurosong selection process.
Instead, it has been decided that ex-Westlife star Nicky Byrne will represent Ireland in Sweden this May.
Byrne will perform 'Sunlight', which he has co-written with renowned songwriter Wayne Hector and Irish composer Ronan Hardiman - who wrote the theme music for RTÉ's 'Six One News', as well as the score for Michael Flatley's 'Lord of the Dance'.
Mr Hector has an impressive track record when it comes to penning stellar pop hits. He has worked with One Direction, Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj and Jason Derulo.
He also wrote seven of Westlife's number 1 singles, including 'Flying Without Wings' and 'World Of Our Own'.
All of RTÉ's Eurovision budget will go towards the production and staging of the entry. By any standards, this is a serious commitment, and is likely to cost in excess of €200,000.
RTÉ's Eurovision head of delegation, Michael Kealy, has appointed US producer Lee Lodge - who worked on the 2015 Oscars - and Tim Byrne, former creative director of Simon Cowell's company Syco, to lead the creative team and produce Byrne's on-stage performance.
Mr Kealy decided to ditch the public-vote-driven Eurosong selection process after it failed to produce any winners.
The most successful entrants under the Eurosong process were the all-singing, all-dancing Grimes brothers, aka Jedward. Other entries were at best forgettable, at worse embarrassing and hopelessly out-dated.
Mr Kealy hopes this year's internal selection process will prove more successful.
"We took a serious look at the selection process, and decided to review how the song was chosen," Mr Kealy explained.
"We looked to other countries. Austria had huge success when Conchita Wurst was selected through an internal selection process so we decided to go down that route."
Ireland last won the Eurovision 20 years ago with Eimear Quinn's haunting melody, 'The Voice'.
"Now we have Sweden breathing down our necks, so we need to re-establish ourselves as Eurovision winners," Mr Kealy told the Irish Independent. Mr Kealy said that while some of Ireland's recent Eurovision entries, such as 16-year-old Molly Sterling, were accomplished musicians they lacked stage experience.
"Nicky Byrne has performed in some of the biggest arenas in the world. He has a breadth of experience and will bring plenty of showmanship to his performance," he said.
Last night, Byrne said he was "honoured" to represent Ireland.
"I have a great memory as a nine-year-old, of dancing around our sitting room in a tri-colour sweatshirt when Johnny Logan lifted the trophy in 1987," he said.
"Ireland, I will give it my best shot."
Listen to Nicky Byrne's song on Independent.ie