Since Israel won the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest earlier this year, there have been a number of calls across Europe (and even further afield) to boycott next years contest - which was confirmed as being hosted in Tel Aviv last month - as a result of the political unrest in the country. One broadcaster which has had to put up with more momentum than most other countries has been RTÉ, the national broadcaster for Ireland. Following a meeting with the Irish main campaign group calling for the boycott, RTÉ has confirmed to its staff that there "will not be any sanction against anyone from within RTÉ who doesn’t wish to travel [to Israel] on conscientious grounds”.
The calls for a boycott begun shortly after Netta won this years contest for Israel with her song 'Toy'. Former Lord Mayor of Dublin - Mícheál Mac Donncha - called for Ireland to boycott the 2019 contest if it was to be hosted in Israel. Following his public declaration, a number of other Irish politicians supported his call for a boycott - suggesting that it would be inappropriate to attend the event held in Israel citing political reasons. In addition to these politicians, Charlie McGettigan - who won the contest back in 1994 - also supported a boycott of the international event. Pressure grew on RTÉ to boycott when the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign launched a petition which has since gone on to collect more than 11,000 signatures.
Despite the growing pressure to boycott, the sitting deputy head of Ireland's government hit back at claims, suggesting that any boycott would not achieve anything and thus rejected the idea of the boycott happening. Following that, on the 16th August 2018, RTÉ confirmed their participation for the contest. Following criticism, RTÉ have now announced that there will be no sanctions made to any staff associated with the entertainment wing of RTÉ that do not wish to travel to Israel to report on the contest.
This year, Ryan O'Shaughnessy took Ireland back to the final for the first time in 5 years with his simple ballad 'Together'. RTÉ will surely be looking to build on this success for next year and secure another appearance in the grand final.
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