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Westlife star out of Eurovision final

Do Not UseDo Not Use 13/05/2016
Dami Im: Australia's Dami Im celebrated making her country's second Eurovision final, after it was granted entry last year © AP Australia's Dami Im celebrated making her country's second Eurovision final, after it was granted entry last year

Ireland has been knocked out of the Eurovision Song Contest after former Westlife singer Nicky Byrne failed to qualify for Saturday's final.

The pop star, 37, was unsuccessful in the semi-final in Stockholm, Sweden, on Thursday, where he was one of 18 acts competing for the last 10 places.

Ireland is the most successful country in the contest's 61 year history, with a total of seven wins.

The UK qualifies automatically, with duo Joe and Jake this year's act.

It is guaranteed a place in the final as one of the "big five" countries along with France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

As reigning winners, Sweden also automatically advance to the grand final.

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The 10 countries that qualified on Thursday are Latvia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Australia, Ukraine, Serbia, Poland, Israel, Lithuania and Belgium.

They will join Azerbaijan, Russia, The Netherlands, Hungary, Croatia, Malta, Austria, Armenia, Czech Republic and Cyprus who all made it through the first semi-final on Tuesday.

Political tensions

The Ukrainian entry, jazz artist Jamala, which got through Thursday's heat, has stirred political tensions with Russia.

Jamala is first ever Crimean Tatar to perform at the contest, and her song 1944 is about former Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin, Crimea and claims of ethnic cleansing.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, as conflict between the two countries escalated.

After Thursday night's semi-final, Byrne thanked his fans, and apologised for failing to make the final.

He tweeted: "Amazing time amazing support, I gave it my all, I'm sorry I didn't get us there. I pass on the torch to someone else now next year."

Ireland's Eurovision fortunes have waned over the past few years, especially since the introduction of the weeknight semi-final rounds.

Winners and losers

In 2007, Ireland came last for the first time ever, scoring just five points for Dervish's They Can't Stop The Spring.

The last time Ireland won the contest was in 1996, when Eimear Quinn triumphed with her song The Voice.

It has been a bad year for Scandinavian entries.

Denmark and Norway were knocked out in the semi-finals, which were decided based on a combination of public and jury voting. Iceland and Finland also failed to make it through.

Australian X Factor winner Dami Im, who was mentored by pop star Dannii Minogue, was voted through to the final with her song Sound Of Silence.

Despite being on the other side of the world from Europe, Australia was invited to join Eurovision for its 60th anniversary in 2015, when contestant Guy Sebastian finished in fifth place.

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