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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 14 Dec 2006

Vol. 629 No. 5

Irish Film Board (Amendment) Bill 2006 [Seanad]: Committee and Remaining Stages.

Question proposed: "That section 1 stand part of the Bill."

On the captioning point the Minister made — this relates to the allocation of money — my understanding is that the Minister is correct in saying it is the responsibility of the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in terms of television but in terms of film production, part of the production cost of making films should be the captioning cost, irrespective of whether it is being produced for cinema or DVD. That is a valid cost of production of the movie and funding should be available under the Irish Film Board in terms of production costs for partly or totally sponsoring the captioning costs of those films.

Since the Deputy has raised the issue I will discuss it with my colleague, the Minister, Deputy Dempsey, who has now arrived in the House but I will not discuss it here. I will discuss it later.

A timely intervention.

Does the Irish Film Board have a comprehensive list of the people here who have skills appropriate to the film industry? There was a project some time ago to set up local film boards but that does not appear to have been followed up. It was before the setting up of the board proper. Does the Minister know the number of people here who can become involved in film making and are we picking up on a significant number of those?

I understand that on average there are approximately 630 people involved in screen training. There is a great deal of interest among young people in becoming involved in film and my hope is that the success we have experienced in 2006 should result in even more people becoming motivated.

It is important to note that the Irish Film Board staff and the board work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that Irish talent is available on the world stage. That involves distributing short films to key industry personnel, locally and internationally; working with key film festivals to ensure that Irish films are considered for selection; membership of key promotional organisations such as European Film Promotion; and attendance at key events through the year to raise the profile of Irish film making talent.

The Irish Film Board is a major funder of FÁS Screen Training Ireland, which is the organisation that provides continuing training for professionals in film, television, animation and digital media. Between 2000 and 2005, an average of 630 participants have undertaken professional training with the organisation annually. That is fairly encouraging.

Regarding training and video production, the Minister is no doubt familiar with what is happening in FÁS in Tralee which is proposing to establish a new media centre. Does the Minister have an update on that? Obviously, FÁS will spearhead that media centre but it is important, from the point of view of film and audiovisual production, that this centre be provided in Tralee as soon as possible where some of our top technicians, camera people, producers and directors started their careers. Will the Minister comment on that proposed media centre for Tralee or confirm that he supports it and that it will go ahead? Also, what is the status of the PricewaterhouseCoopers report on the film industry?

The Deputy is going well outside the scope of this Bill.

I have a brief question for the Minister which is in line with what I said earlier in my contribution. The €200 million is State money but some of it will be used by the Irish Film Board. Is there a local labour clause whereby film makers who are availing of opportunities in Ireland must employ Irish actors or expertise? One of the films we praised earlier, "The Wind that Shakes the Barley", used a good deal of local labour including actors who had not been seen on screen previously but all the stunts were carried out by an English company, despite the fact that our stunt men do not have enough work to keep them busy throughout the year and must do other work.

My other question concerns labour protections to ensure that the top standards we expect of all industries are implemented in this industry.

To take Deputy Deenihan's point first, the question of a media office is something we can bring to the attention of the Irish Film Board to determine if it is a sustainable and viable option. The Irish Film Board film commission acts as a focal point and information hub for the network of regional film offices to facilitate film making activity on the ground in the regions. The members of the network are usually county and city councils. Currently, there are 13 members, and included in those is Kerry.

With regard to the Pricewaterhouse Coopers report, that report is still under consideration by the Irish Film Board. I am waiting to hear from it in that regard. I am sure the Deputy will raise the question again in the new year. That is the current position.

With regard to Deputy Ó Snodaigh's point on labour, first, there is a minimum wage here, as he is well aware, and, second, it would not be sustainable for us to insist that people working on films made here would be Irish because that would not be sustainable in European Union terms.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 2 stand part of the Bill."

On section 2, which I do not oppose, I made the point in debates on other legislation that the Titles of Acts should be in Irish first and in English in brackets thereafter. The Title of this Bill should be An Bille um Bord Scannán na hÉireann (Leasú) because Irish is the official language and it should be in brackets thereafter as Béarla, namely, the Irish Film Board (Amendment) Bill.

I do not doubt Deputy Ó Snodaigh's facility with the Irish language, which is well known, but I will have to accept the advice of the Parliamentary Counsel and his team on this occasion.

Question put and agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.