"Anyone would think you wanted Ireland to lose"

Does Father Ted's Eurovision conspiracy theory add up in 2017?

"Anyone would think you wanted Ireland to lose"

Sergei Chuzavkov/AP/PA photowire service / Father Ted Channel 4

As Europe prepares for its annual sing-off Ireland finds itself left out in the cold again as its 2017 effort 'Dying to Try' crashed out at the semi-final stage.

During the finals, viewers will be told that they can vote by "telephone, SMS and through the official app."

However, users who do go to the bother of installing the app and finding the voting section will see that the 'app voting' option will actually link you back to your SMS messenger to vote via text for a 60c fee - because nothing in life is free and Eurovision is an expensive business.


Eurovision disappointments have become routine for Ireland - our last victory was in May 1996 when Eimear Quinn's haunting rendition of 'The Voice' did the business in Oslo.

That competition was six months before Ireland's 2017 performer Brendan Murray was born and one month after Father Ted's 'A Song for Europe' aired.

The episode, in which dodgy judges send Fr Ted and Fr Dougal's 'My Lovely Horse' to represent Ireland, ends with Ted's rival Fr Dick Bryne suggesting that Ireland was deliberately throwing the competition to avoid the financial burden of hosting the event.

Is winning bad business?

Even before you get on to the finances behind hosting the Eurovision - just entering the contest is a costly business. Last year €337,000 was spent on sending Ireland's entry, Nicky Byrne's 'Sunlight,' to Stockholm.

In 2010, Hungry pulled out of the competition during an IMF bailout because its national broadcaster couldn't afford the cost of sending an act.

Azerbaijan pushed the boat out in 2012 when it spent £48m (€60m - converted at the exchange rate of the time) hosting the event. This included the construction of a new venue for the show.

Last year, Sweden set aside the more modest (but still significant) sum of £11m (€14m) to stage the party.


An analysis paper from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) tracked the costs and tourism income boosts associated with hosting the competition. It shows that it is possible to almost offset the cost of hosting the event through income from the visitors which it draws.

However, the gap between these figures ranges from a £1m loss in Malmo in 2013, to Azerbaijan's £41m 2012 deficit (which is distorted by the cost of creating the new venue which offered future economic benefits).

The research states, "It’s hard to be conclusive" when it comes to accessing the economic benefits of hosting the event.

"Every host city has seen a modest boost in both short-term tourism and in their local economy. The longer-term benefits are harder to estimate but with over 180 million viewers worldwide, the international, positive exposure that comes as part of hosting is likely to dramatically increase tourism-related revenue. Plus, there’s the kudos of winning, and in some eyes, that’s just as important," the report states.

Good evening, Dublin

So, would a Eurovision victory be a good or bad thing for Ireland? It depends on who you are asking.

We have a ready-made and modern venue in Dublin's 3Arena. It has a listed capacity of 14,500 - significantly more than this year's 10,000 seater auditorium in Kiev.

However, the cost of holding the event falls on the country's broadcast partner - in Ireland's case that's RTE.

The State broadcaster is already feeling a financial squeeze and has been forced to take actions such as selling off part of its Dublin 4 broadcasting centre's land and announcing a string of redundancies to keep the ship steady.

According to reports in The Irish Independent on Thursday, the director general of RTE, Dee Forbes, recently told Communications Minister Denis Naughten that, "RTE is in a truly critical place."

While an eight Irish win would be good news for pubs, clubs, restaurants, Airbnbs, hotels, and would offer the country international exposure and a tourism bump - it would also be likely to cause considerable headaches in Montrose.