Belfast Telegraph

'X Factor' snub for Ireland as Dublin auditions ditched

By Edel O'Connell

'X Factor' producers have snubbed thousands of Irish hopefuls by not holding auditions iin Dublin this year.

Despite the success of Mary Byrne last year, after she first came to prominence at auditions in Dublin's Convention Centre, this time people will have to travel to the UK to be heard.

Westlife manager and long-standing show judge Louis Walsh last night urged Irish 'X Factor' hopefuls to take a flight to Liverpool -- confirming the show wouldn't come to Ireland this year.

Walsh was speaking following the first day of auditions for the new series, which took place in Birmingham, England, yesterday.

"We are not going to Ireland this year," he confirmed to the Irish Independent, but wouldn't be drawn on why the decision was made.

"If people want this badly enough they can get on a plane and come to Liverpool for the auditions there. I am confident we will get another fantastic Irish contestant this year," he said.

The news will come as a blow to Irish acts who had hoped to audition.

The blockbusting talent show hosted auditions here during its first three series, but stopped visiting from 2006 until the superstar judges, including Cheryl Cole, travelled here last summer.

Ms Byrne, who auditioned in front of Cowell, Katy Perry, Walsh and Cole, last year, has said she would not have travelled to England to audition for the show. She went on to finish fifth in the contest and will support Neil Diamond in concert later this month.

Despite this, it is understood that Cowell has been unimpressed with the quality of acts who turned up at previous Irish auditions.

Cowell and Cole are no longer judges on the British version of the show. Instead, Louis was joined yesterday by Take That's Gary Barlow, former Destiny's Child singer Kelly Rowland and N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos.

Walsh said thousands of hopefuls turned up to try to impress the panel, who took their seats behind the famous desk for the first round of the 2011 auditions.

"It is amazing that we have Gary Barlow and Kelly Rowland this year, the vibe is fantastic," he said.

Barlow is having to multi-task for his new role by judging and performing on the same day.

The singer will watch hopefuls by day and fill stadiums with Take That by night on several days.

"Double shifts for me," he said, adding that he would be attending all 12 auditions, despite clashes with live dates as his group plays to 1.7 million people on their sell-out stadium tour.

"I didn't want to miss any of the audition days. I want to see all the talent come through the door," he said.

Explaining his decision to get involved, he said: "I've spent the last five years making albums, doing tours; it's been all about the band and me, and I fancied just taking a back-seat for a while and helping other people develop their careers."

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