A former Stormont minister has said Belfast should be in the running to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
t follows news that the BBC has entered negotiations to stage the 2023 competition in the UK.
Simon Hamilton, chief executive of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce and a former DUP Economy Minister, said Northern Ireland’s capital city now had an excellent track record of hosting major events.
He said: “With UNESCO City of Music status recently secured and a great track record of hosting large scale events, Belfast would be perfect city for hosting Eurovision.”
In a statement, the organisers of the Eurovision Song Contest confirmed it was in talks for the BBC to “potentially host” the event, concluding that the war in Ukraine still meant that safety could not be guaranteed.
The Ukrainian entry of Kalush Orchestra won this year’s competition in Turin, Italy.
The statement added :“It is our full intention that Ukraine’s win will be reflected in next year’s shows. This will be a priority for us in our discussions with the eventual hosts.”
Downing Street welcomed the possibility to host the event, with a No 10 spokesman saying: “Ukraine’s victory in the Eurovision song contest was richly deserved and as the rightful winner the Government’s firm wish has been to see next year’s contest hosted there.
“If the EBU decides the competition can’t go ahead in Ukraine we would of course welcome the opportunity to work closely with Ukraine and the BBC to host it here in the UK.
“But we would be committed to ensuring it overwhelmingly reflects Ukraine’s rich culture, heritage and creativity, as well as building on the ongoing partnership between our two countries.”
When asked if the Government would help the BBC with the costs, the spokesman said “we’re slightly getting ahead of ourselves in terms of the process”.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also offered Glasgow as a potential host city, tweeting: “I can think of a perfect venue on banks of the River Clyde!!”
The BBC said in a statement: “We have seen the announcement from the EBU. Clearly these aren’t a set of circumstances that anyone would want.
“Following their decision, we will of course discuss the BBC hosting the Eurovision Song Contest.”