Irish broadcaster won't punish staff who refuse to attend Eurovision 2019

RTÉ will not boycott the competition, but will cover it "more widely than an entertainment event."

Could the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds host the Eurovision competition next year? (photo credit: Courtesy)
Could the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds host the Eurovision competition next year?
(photo credit: Courtesy)
RTÉ, the Irish public broadcaster, said this week that it will not penalize staff members who don’t want to attend the 2019 Eurovision in Tel Aviv.
A spokesman for the broadcaster told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that it “confirmed in a meeting with representatives of the Irish campaign for a boycott of Eurovision 2019 in Israel that there will not be any sanction against anyone from within RTÉ who doesn’t wish travel to the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel on conscientious grounds.”
RTÉ said it did not believe any member of its staff had ever protested a Eurovision in the past. In 2012, the contest was held in Azerbaijan, and in 2009 it was held in Russia – both countries with questionable records on human rights.
“RTÉ is not aware of any previous case where RTÉ staff refused to travel to the Eurovision Song Contest on conscientious grounds,” the spokesman said.
The Ireland Palestinian Solidarity Campaign said it met last week with Dee Forbes, the director-general of RTÉ, and other officials from the public broadcaster. In a statement, the activist group said it presented the RTÉ representatives with a petition calling to boycott the Eurovision in Israel signed by more than 11,000 people.
According to the IPSC, the RTÉ officials indicated during the meeting that they were aware of the concerns, but they did not have any intention of boycotting the contest. The officials did reportedly indicate that RTÉ would be sure to not just cover the Eurovision “as an entertainment event... [but] will be covering it more widely.”
Despite several calls for a boycott – including from the mayor of Dublin – Ireland confirmed last month that it will participate in next year’s competition in Tel Aviv. As of Tuesday, 35 countries have already confirmed they will be at the 2019 Eurovision, and no regularly participating member has indicated it will boycott the event.
While RTE won’t be boycotting Eurovision, The Irish Association of Songwriter Composers and Authors has indicated it may do so – making it more difficult for Ireland to come up with a song for next year’s competition. The general manager of the IASCA told The Sun last month that it would be debating its participation.
While it is possible some RTÉ staff members will choose to boycott the competition, Ireland was one of the many countries that helped Netta Barzilai win the contest earlier this year. The jury from Ireland awarded Israel seven points, while the country’s tele-voters gave Barzilai six points.
And earlier this year, the Irish contestant in the 2018 Eurovision, Ryan O’Shaughnessy, enjoyed a four-day trip to Israel as part of the pre-Eurovision Israel Calling Event. During his visit, O’Shaughnessy posted a photo of himself aboard a camel and called the chance to perform for 10,000 Israeli fans “amazing.”