RTE spent €337,000 on Byrne's failed bid to conquer Eurovision
RTE spent €337,000 on sending Nicky Byrne to perform at the Eurovision last year, the Herald can reveal.
A total of 18 people travelled to Stockholm in May 2016 as part of the Irish Eurovision team, which included RTE staff and artists.
However, according to information released under the Freedom of Information Act, this final figure of €337,000 does not include the charge for RTE labour and additional costs.
The total does include the Eurovision entry fee of €88,472. Part of this would have gone towards meeting the "substantial costs" the host broadcaster would have incurred.
€64,657 of the budget was spent on travel costs, which included the flights to Sweden, hotels, subsistence and transport.
When asked about what travel arrangements were put in place for the team, RTE said the Irish party all flew economy and only stayed in officially- designated hotels.
The former Westlife star waived his performance fee for the money to be spent on the production.
Despite his best efforts, Ireland once again failed to qualify for the final. The last time Ireland got out of the semi-final stage was back in 2013, with Ryan Dolan and his song Only Love Survives. However, he came bottom of the group.
Defending the cost of the 2016 Irish Eurovision effort, an RTE spokesperson said the national broadcaster did not hold a Eurosong competition for the show as it had done in previous years.
"The separate budget set aside for the Eurosong selection was instead used towards the overall staging and appearance of Nicky Byrne's performance in Stockholm," she said. Describing Eurovision as "the largest entertainment show in the world", she said the final on RTE pulled in more than 1.1m viewers.
"Providing seven-and-a-half hours of live entertainment content, the Eurovision Song Contest represents excellent value for money for RTE and for Irish television licence fee payers," she said.
This year, Hometown star Brendan Murray (20) will be throwing his hat into the Eurovision ring in Kiev in Ukraine, performing the power ballad Dying To Try.
However, Nicky has said that he will have an uphill battle.
"Even if he smashes it out of the park, it's got to connect with the Eurovision crowd. You're up against it all and, while Louis [Walsh] is the right man to do it, he's been out of the Eurovision world for 100 years, so he's got to get back in there and realise all that," he said.