Tuesday 17 September 2019

'My kids could be gay' - Ryan O'Shaughnessy on powerful Eurovision performance as Ireland surges with bookies

Ryan O'Shaughnessy at the Altice Arena for the Eurovision second semi-final last night. PIC: Andres Poveda
Ryan O'Shaughnessy at the Altice Arena for the Eurovision second semi-final last night. PIC: Andres Poveda
Ryan O'Shaughnessy with Rylan Clark-Neal and Finland's Saara Aalto. PIC: Andres Poveda
Irish Eurovision hopeful Ryan O'Shaughnessy and Marty Whelan. Picture Andres Poveda
Ryan O'Shaughnessy in Lisbon this morning. PIC: Andres Poveda
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

Ryan O'Shaughnessy has backed the Eurovison ban of China - revealing he felt it was important to stage his song using a gay couple to send out a message of hope.

As the controversy made headlines around the world, bookies experienced a surge in support for the Irish entry.

Ireland is now third favourite behind Cyprus and Israel to win the contest - potentially extending our Eurovision record to eight wins.

The Dubliner (25) revealed he fully supports the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) decision to ban China from broadcasting the contest.

"Eurovision is all aboard, it's about celebrating diversity. What they did by censoring our performance was going completely against that", he told Independent.ie in Lisbon.

"It was the correct decision by the EBU. We're all in this together, and people are really understanding what we're doing with this performance."

The performance is the first in the contest's 63 year history to feature a same-sex couple - and Ryan said he wanted to do it to send a positive message.

"Having a gay couple was really important. This is coming from a straight man - a lot of people asked me why I was doing it if I'm not gay. It's because my nephew could be gay, or my kids could be gay."

He added that Ireland has become known for breaking down barriers:

"To break down barriers is what we need to continue doing and Ireland is a great country for doing that. We've done that time and time again over the last ten or 15 years with referendums  and stuff.

"We come from a place that can do that and that's what I wanted to bring to this experience."

All the global media headlines haven't distracted him from his performance, however:

"I've actually been really energised by all of this happening. I'm not feeling much pressure at all, I know I'll have the support of the whole country, and that's really going to spur us on."

An RTE spokesperson confirmed to Independent.ie that when the broadcaster became aware of reports of Chinese censorship earlier this week, they asked the EBU to investigate.

The EBU subsequently contacted the Chinese broadcaster - Mango TV - to seek clarification.

When it was confirmed the Irish performance had been removed from the broadcast, the EBU decided to terminate the licence with immediate effect.

He said he's hopeful of achieving a strong result in the final:

"I think the work isn't done yet, I think we have a really good chance this year.

"Everything has been going good for us so far. The team is great, we couldn't have asked for a better group of people to be here with, and the Irish fans who traveled to be here."

He also revealed that he has paid tribute to his favourite Eurovision song - 1994 winner 'Rock'n'Roll kids' - in the staging of his song

"I wanted to keep it simple and similar to Rock'n'Roll Kids - and if you look we laid out the stage similarly to Charlie and Paul with the guitar and the piano.

"We wanted to make the simplest things look good, because that can be the hardest thing to get right. It's easy to say to the pyro guys 'set off some fireworks there at the chorus', it's harder to say to them 'can you turn off those lights', because they want to use everything.

"Looking back on it the other night with everyone having their phones lit up - it was just so special."

Ireland will perform in tonight's Eurovision final at 8pm on RTE One.

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