It’s the one-time Eurovision powerhouse that finds itself licking its wounds after finishing last in the semi-final for a second consecutive contest. Now, as the dust settles on Lesley Roy’s Rotterdam adventure, Ireland’s RTÉ is left to map out a new strategy for 2022 and beyond.
Speaking to The Irish Sun, Head of Delegation Micheal Kealy shares his dream for public involvement while also stressing the broadcaster’s financial difficulties.
Will Ireland return to a national final for Eurovision 2022?
Kealy has stood by Ireland’s internal selection process on many occasions, citing various issues such as the difficulty in attracting quality acts, the cost of running a national final and the public’s tendency to vote for their local hometown entries. However, after a sixth non-qualification in seven attempts, he’s now singing a slightly different tune.
“I feel it’s time we reverted to giving the public their say in what we do but we must find an effective and cost effective way of doing that.”
Nonetheless, Michael quickly dampens expectations of a lavish national selection by highlighting RTÉ’s budgetary woes.
“Other countries are able to invest significantly more money and resources in their selection processes, staging and support teams than a small chronically underfunded broadcaster like RTE, that’s unfortunately a fact of life we can’t ignore.”
It’s worth noting that Michael doesn’t specifically advocate for a return to a traditional national final. We’ve seen other countries let the public have their say without hosting a televised selection. Between 2018 and 2020, Czech Republic held an online selection with fans and an international jury casting their votes based on music videos. In 2021, Bulgaria presented a selection of songs for Victoria and opened a portal for the public to share their thoughts — although the final decision remained with the delegation.
Ireland’s Eurovision selection process
Up until 2016, Ireland always selected its entries using some form of public competition. In recent years, this typically took the form of a Eurosong special on the Friday night talk show The Late Late Show. However, RTÉ went internal in 2016, selecting Westlife’s Nicky Byrne and the song “Sunlight”.
In 2017, music impresario Louis Walsh was handed the reigns. He handpicked Brendan Murray and “Dying To Try”. There was an open call for entries between 2018 and 2020, while Lesley Roy was reselected in 2021 after Eurovision 2020 was cancelled.
In this period of internal selections, Ireland has only made the final once — with Ryan O’Shaughnessy and “Together” in 2018.
What do you think of Michael Kealy’s comments? Is an Irish national final a realistic prospect or just wishful thinking? Let us know below.