| 1.3°C Dublin

Eurovision proves that not everyone loves us after all

How times have changed. For years the cry was: "We can't afford to win the Eurovision. The cost of staging the annual song contest will bankrupt us."

Now that our bankers, politicians and financial regulators have landed us up shit creek, the desperate plea is: "We need to win Eurovision to show the world we're good for something other than begging or smuggling drugs."

According to some expert analysts, with the country going down the pan, a Eurovision victory would lift the morale, bring inward investment and provide a platform for a massive export drive.

Which is why if the FTSE Index takes a hammering today, some rogue economist is sure to blame Julian Vignoles, Ireland's Eurovision bainisteoir, the shadowy figure who supervises our assault on Europe.

But talented Julian drew the short straw yet again. It was obvious on Saturday night when it was announced before the first song was heard that: "The voting lines are now open!"

Ireland could have wheeled out, literally, Bono, straight from his hospital bed and we wouldn't have stood much of a chance.

Or motorbikin' Ronan in sackcloth and ashes and we still probably wouldn't have done much better.

Except perhaps to notch a few extra sympathy votes.

The annual Eurovision Song Contest has developed into something you'd expect to see in an episode of Dr Who where alien lifeforms from distant galaxies and forgotten civilisations parade across the screen.

Trolls. The living dead. Rejects from Operation Transformation. And, then of course, there are the performers.

If we're serious about improving on plucky Niamh Kavanagh's humbling third last, we need to do what we're good at. Songwriting? No. Setting up a Government-sponsored tribunal or committee to examine the voting patterns and devising ways to neutralising this nauseating neighbourliness that has made, as James Joyce, might have said, "shite and onions" of our claim that everyone loves us. And that few can resist an Irish singsong.

It's not as if we haven't the greatest pop artists in the world in this country. Chris De Burgh, Ding Dong Denny O'Reilly, Brian Cowen... the list is endless.

But despite our Euroshame, please don't take our song contest away from us. It's our only chance to let the world see the talent that is Marty Whelan.

Since it first began in 1956 the Eurovision Song Contest has been a dubious design. Switzerland won the first contest. There were only seven countries taking part. Ireland wasn't one of them.

We didn't enter the rat race until 1965, when Butch Moore came a respectable fourth out of 18 countries.

In the past, research proved that the countries most likely to vote for Ireland included Sweden, Austria, UK, Switzerland and Denmark. That was in what Euro-veterans call "the good old days".

Today our chances haven't been scuppered by better songs from France or Spain. No. The cause of our Euro-downfall can be firmly blamed on a combination of Lech Walesa, Mikhail Gorbachev and the death of Tito.

Since these giants disappeared from the political stage and the political landscape changed forever, nul point has been used like a tactical nuclear deterrent by countries Euro voters didn't know existed back in the day when Holland was winning with Ding Dinge Dong.


Like I say, we need a GAA-style rules commission to examine how, for example, Germany could win with a song that had already been a Europe-wide hit and popular with the voters long before Saturday night.

Ironically, Ireland's biggest Eurovision win wasn't an entry. As Riverdance continues to stomp its way around the globe, we can feel smug as we watch the men in spangly Y-fronts, the Yordi-style outfits or the transvestites dressed by someone with a white cane, knowing that even if we never win the bloody thing again, we're still kings and queens of the interval acts.

Of course, we could always resort to threats, or diplomatic debating, in an effort to get back in the race.

If the Belarusians or the Scandinavians don't come good with maximum points we could suggest we'll send back the Turkey. Dustin the Turkey, that is. Or Kavanagh. Richie "Aon Focal Eile" Kavanagh.

That should sort 'em.