THE X FACTOR star Mary Byrne can sing judges Dannii Minogue and Cheryl Cole "under the table", according to fellow judge Louis Walsh.
Mr Walsh was defending the Ballyfermot checkout worker after Simon Cowell accused her of "coming out doing the same song every week".
Nevertheless, Ms Byrne, aka MaBy to fans, survived elimination from the competition with her performance of the 1963 hit 'I Who Have Nothing'.
Ms Byrne has sung 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me' and 'It's a Man's Man's Man's World' -- both 1966 singles -- in the past. Dannii Minogue joined in the criticism saying that Ms Byrne's song choices could lose her teenage votes, critical to survival in the competition.
"Mary, next week please sing a current song, because I think young and old love you, but if you threw in some new songs, it would be fantastic," she said.
Both judges blamed Walsh for choosing her cover versions.
"You do this fantastically but Louis needs to start using his imagination," Cowell said.
But speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Walsh claimed he was correct in his song choices for Ms Byrne.
"I know exactly what I'm doing. It's about pleasing the public and not pleasing the three judges because they don't have a vote," he said.
"In the case of Dannii Minogue and Cheryl Cole, Mary can sing them both under the table."
Meanwhile, he said he feared for the prospects of fellow Irish contestant Rebecca Creighton (21) from Tallaght, a member of girl band Belle Ami, because he doesn't believe the group's mentor -- Cowell -- has any interest in them.
However, he said votes from teenage girls would keep the third Irish finalist, Niall Horan (16) from Mullingar, who is in the boyband '1Direction', in the competition.
Meanwhile in Ireland, DVD chains are blaming the show for killing their weekend business. Both Xtravision and Chartbusters say they are suffering a serious fall-off in in trade due to large numbers of their customers opting to watch the talent show rather than DVDs.
Bars and restaurants have also had their Saturday and Sunday night custom slashed by the programme.
"People come out later on a Saturday night after the 'The X Factor' is over. That's if they come out at all," said Bernard Molloy, manager of Solas Bar on Wexford Street.
Other publicans however, are organising 'The X Factor' nights.
"We're now doing 'The X Factor' nights on Saturdays and Sundays," David Lawless, manager of The Morgue Pub in Templeogue, Dublin, said.
"If we didn't, we wouldn't have any business."