'Gutting' for Belfast to have missed out on Eurovision bid

Love it or loathe it, the Eurovision Song Contest can be big business. It's thought the host city reaps in millions from visiting performers, fans and those working to put on the show. But it's not to be for Belfast in 2023, despite an effort from the city council to bid to make the shortlist.

Eurovision 'super fan' Padraic Devlin was devastated to learn Belfast had missed out.

On the shortlist of cities being considered to host the contest is Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield.

Padraic Devlin is a Eurovision 'super fan' he said "dark clouds" descended when he realised Belfast has missed out on hosting the show.

"There was so much hope going into this today," he told UTV.

"I am sure I am speaking for all the fans from this part of the world to say there was so much sadness. I'm gutted we didn't make that shortlist."

SDLP councillor Seamus De Faoite had been leading Belfast City Council's bid. Speaking to UTV he expressed his disappointment that Belfast had not made the cut: "I think we put a lot of heart and soul into a bid to be able to bring the finals to Belfast.

"I think we had a really compelling narrative to be able to tell people, but unfortunately that has fallen short." It's understood the only venue big enough to host the event in Northern Ireland would have been the SSE Arena in Belfast and it would have had to have been free from other concert bookings for multiple weeks in the lead up to the contest in May next year. It highlights some of the significant logistical challenges in hosting the event.

Councillor De Faoite says finding a venue will be a challenge for any city but insists that Belfast should be in contention for such international events having hosted the MTV European Music Awards in 2011, the World Police & Fire Games, and the Giro d'Italia. "We should be more ambitious about the kind of events that we can bring to Belfast and the type of visitors that we can attract and draw to this place as well. We can't just rely on cruise ship visitors to be the main stay of our tourism here." "It's been 10 years since we have been able to bring major events to the city... we want to be able to attract those back to Belfast.

"We need Executive ministers in place and a government in place to help us do that."

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