WESTLIFE are splitting to spend more time with their families and enjoy the fruits of their success after 14 years together.
Their manager Louis Walsh told the Herald that Kian Egan (31), Mark Feehily (31), Shane Filan (32) and Nicky Byrne (33) first mooted the idea of splitting a year ago -- but only came to a definite decision in the last three months.
"They have literally spent all of their 20s being in Westlife but now they're in their 30s, their priorities have changed," Louis told the Herald.
"They're looking at their families and their kids and the lads don't want to be on the road all the time anymore. They want to be able to enjoy the success that they've had. Otherwise what's the point?"
The momentous decision comes as the band members focus on other projects.
Kian Egan is preparing for the arrival of his first child with wife Jodi Albert and is also focusing on his judging role on RTE programme The Voice. His own girlband, Wonderland, which featured Jodi, were dropped from their record label last month and have since split.
Earlier this month, Westlife fans were in shock when Shane Filan's wife, mum-of-three Gillian, received death threats from a woman online but this is thought to have had no bearing on the band's decision to go their separate ways. Doting dad Shane has a number of projects in Sligo, where his family live.
Meanwhile, Nicky Byrne and his wife Georgina are looking ahead to the next school year for their twins Jay and Rocco. The four-year-olds were expected to start school this year, but their parents opted to keep them at home for another year. With Westlife touring commitments perhaps taking up a lot of Nicky's time for the next 12 months, Nicky should have some more time on his hands next year. The singer has long been tipped for a career in TV.
In August, Mark Feehily was forced to complain to gardai after receiving a torrent of abuse online. Mark, who is engaged to long-term partner Kevin McDaid, was targeted after he bravely spoke out against bullying, talking about his own experience.
X Factor judge Louis said the band decided it was time to go their separate ways -- and it was better to go out on a high. The chart-topping boyband confirmed in a statement yesterday that they have decided to split after 14 years after a Farewell Tour next year.
"They could have continued to sell out arenas and keep going for another 10 years. They fans still love them but the guys just want to do different things," Louis told the Herald.
"They have been together for 14 years and have done 10 massive tours including several sell-out dates in Croke Park. They have been one of Ireland's most successful musical acts ever and have nothing more to prove to anyone."
Louis insisted that there was absolutely no ill feeling between any of them and they're all still the best of mates.
"Not at all, they genuinely get on and genuinely loved performing. I had a great relationship with them, they were great to work with," he continued.
Nicky, Kian, Shane and Mark will say farewell to fans on the Greatest Hits Tour, which kicks off in May next year. And the Herald can reveal how they will give their first tell-all TV interview on the Late Late Show within the next few weeks.
Fans of the band flooded their official website with comments as the news emerged last night, with many saying they were "devastated" about their decision to split. In a statement released by Sony Music, Westlife -- who have had 14 number one singles -- said the decision was "entirely amicable."
"After spending all of our adult life together so far, we want to have a well-earned break and look at new ventures," it said. "We see the Greatest Hits collection and the farewell tour as the perfect way to celebrate our incredible career with our fans. We never imagined when we started out in 1998 that 14 years later we would still be recording, touring and having hits together. It has been a dream come true."
Their final album will be released on Friday November 18 alongside their new single Lighthouse.
Last year saw them part ways with Simon Cowell after 13 years to sign with rival label Sony. At the time, they said they wanted to work on more of their own music. Now they'll all be following their individual projects.