A former Stormont minister has said Belfast should be in contention to host the Eurovision Song Contest next year.
This follows news that the BBC has entered into negotiations to hold the 2023 competition in the UK.
Simon Hamilton, chief executive of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce and former DUP economics minister, said Northern Ireland’s capital now has an excellent track record of hosting major events.
He said: “With recently achieved UNESCO City of Music status and an excellent track record of hosting large-scale events, Belfast would be the perfect city to host Eurovision.”
In a statement, Eurovision Song Contest organizers confirmed they were in talks for the BBC to “potentially host” the event, concluding that the war in Ukraine still meant security could not be guaranteed.
Kalush Orchestra’s Ukrainian entry won this year’s competition in Turin, Italy.
The statement added: “We fully intend for Ukraine’s victory to be reflected in next year’s broadcasts. This will be a priority for us in our discussions with potential hosts. »
Downing Street welcomed the chance to host the event, with a No 10 spokesman saying: “Ukraine’s victory in the Eurovision Song Contest was amply deserved and as the rightful winners the firm wish of the government was to see next year’s competition held there.
“If the EBU decides that the competition cannot take place in Ukraine, we would of course be delighted to be able to work closely with Ukraine and the BBC to host it here in the UK.
“But we are committed to ensuring that it overwhelmingly reflects Ukraine’s rich culture, heritage and creativity, while building on the ongoing partnership between our two countries.”
Asked if the government would help the BBC defray the costs, the spokesperson said: “We are getting a bit ahead of ourselves in terms of process.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also offered Glasgow as a potential host city, tweeting: “I can think of a perfect venue on the banks of the River Clyde!!”
The BBC said in a statement: “We have seen the EBU announcement. Clearly this is not a set of circumstances anyone would want.
“Following their decision, we will of course discuss the BBC’s hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest.”