Eurovision 2019: Turns out Ireland didn’t come last after all

Dismissal of the Belarusian jury over a rules breach means the UK now has fewest points

Sarah McTernan representing Ireland with the song 22 has failed to qualify for the Eurovision Song Contest final. It is the fifth time in six years Ireland has bowed out at the semi-final stages. Video: Eurovision Song Contest

It’s official: Ireland didn’t come joint last in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest after all. The UK now gets that honour to itself, as the organisers of last week’s event say they have been forced to dismiss the Belarusian jury and recalculate the competition’s final scores.

Ireland and the United Kingdom limped away from this year’s contest, in Tel Aviv, with 16 points each. But the UK tally has now been cut to just 11 points, as the European Broadcasting Union says it has had to replace the Belarusian jury’s votes with a substitute set because the jury revealed how it scored the first semi-final, on Tuesday last week.

The Irish entry, 22, sung by Sarah McTernan, was knocked out of the second semi-final, last Thursday. Bigger Than Us, the UK entry, sung by Michael Rice, came last in Saturday’s final; it had qualified automatically because of the size of the BBC’s contribution to the European Broadcasting Union budget.

After the final Rice blamed the result on ill-feeling towards the UK because of its decision to leave the European Union.


“I always knew I was going to come in this position because of Brexit,” he told the Sun. “Do you know what? If it was Gary Barlow or Elton John, they still probably would have come last too.”

Today’s rejig of the final scores also means that, although the placing of the top four countries has not changed, Sweden has moved up to fifth, swapping places with Norway.

Next year’s Eurovision Song Contest will be held in the Netherlands after the victory on Saturday of Duncan Laurence, whose song Arcade now has 498 points, up from 492 on the night.

Liam Stebbing

Liam Stebbing

Liam Stebbing is Culture Editor of The Irish Times