Excitement is building in Tel-Aviv as Ireland’s Eurovision hopeful Sarah McTernan prepares to take to the stage for tonight’s semi-final.
The 25-year-old Clare native will be the second act to take to the stage after the show gets underway at 8pm Irish time.
She will be up against a tough field, in what is viewed as the stronger of the two semi-finals, when she performs her song, ’22.’
The event itself has been overshadowed by calls for a boycott over Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and treatment of the Palestinian people.
Around 100 Irish supporters have travelled to Israel – which is significantly less than would travel normally.
The president of the Eurovision Fan Club in Ireland, Dermot Furlong, said Tel Aviv has proven itself a “really vibrant host city” so far, adding: “It has just been great fun and we are really enjoying it.”
— Henry McKean (@HenryMcKean) May 16, 2019
He said those who voted for Israel last year knew they would host this year's event.
“Since I have been over her, I have found the Israeli people really friendly and very welcoming and they are going about their daily lives,” he said.
“For me, one of the prizes of winning Eurovision is that your country gets to host the following year’s competition and I just think the majority of people across Europe picked up their phones and voted for Israel this time last year – knowing that should Israel win, they would be hosting it the following year.”
Rejecting calls for a boycott earlier this year, RTÉ said the contest was “non-political” and “designed to bring audiences and countries together.”
Ms McTernan has said she respects everyone's opinion and is just really happy to representing Ireland.
The Grand Final is due to be held on Saturday.