Irish Film Classification Office

Irish Film Classification Office

Acting Director of Film ClassificationGer Connolly
Deputy DirectorVacant
Employees: 21

The Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) (Irish: Oifig Aicmithe Scannán na hÉireann, OASÉ) is the organisation responsible for film and some video game classification and censorship within Ireland. Where restrictions are placed by the IFCO, they are legally binding. Prior to 21 July 2008, the office was branded as the Irish Film Censor's Office, and was previously known as simply the Film Censor's Office, or, in legal references, the office of the Official Censor of Films, which was the official title of the head of the office prior to that date. The head of the office is the Director of Film Classification.


1965 envelope sent to local office of 20th Century Fox with certifying cachet of the Film Censor's Office

The Irish Film Censor's Office was set up in 1923, in accordance with the Censorship of Films Act, 1923. This law was amended in 1925, 1930, 1970, and 1992; and a substantial revision of the law occurred in the Video Recordings Act, 1989 which extended the remit of the office to the regulation of the video importation and supply industry. On 21 July 2008 the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 came into force. Section 70 changes some of the provisions with regard censorship of films in the State. Section 71 renames the Film Censor as the Director of Film Classification and consequent to this, the Irish Film Censor's Office became the Irish Film Classification Office.


The office consists of 21 staff members:

The 10 assistant classifiers are paid €168 per day and are entitled to claim expenses on top of this. According to a freedom of information request granted to the Irish edition of the Sunday Times the assistant classifiers claimed €306,683 in fees and €52,569 of expenses in 2007; €339,608 in fees and €49,898 of expenses in 2008; and €162,263 in fees and €21,401 of expenses for the first half of 2009. This equates to a payment of approximately €60 per film rated.[1]


Cinematic certificates

The current cinematic certificates that are issued are:

Home video certificates

The current certificates for home video formats such as DVD and Blu-ray that are issued are:

A retired certificate only used on home video is:

Standard cinematic-home video certification crossover

This is the crossover, or change, in a certificate that will happen when a film which has been shown in cinemas, is released on home video, but this only applies if:

If the above information applies to a home video release, please see below the table.

The standard crossovers are as follows:

Cinema certificate Home video certificate
12A 12
15A 15
16 15/18
18 18

Note: The certificate "12RA" did not have a corresponding cinematic certificate, and thus, did not have a standard crossover (certain 12A films received the certificate before it was withdrawn in the mid 2000s).

If the two rules above apply to a film's home video release, then, generally, it will be re-rated completely, but this does not mean certificates will always coincide for all formats, as occasionally (usually the DVD or Blu-ray) one edition will contain extra features while the other does not, causing one to be re-rated, and the other to take a Standard Crossover (for instance, a film which received a 15A certificate in cinemas may have received a 15 certificate on VHS but an 18 certificate on DVD; usually DVDs in these circumstances would carry a label on the reverse, informing viewers of this).

Home video

A censor's stamp on a 2004 DVD

Until February 2009, the home video certificates were always the certificate surrounded by an octagon, followed by the words "FILM CENSOR'S OFFICE" and "OIFIG SCRÚDÓIR NA SCANNÁN", which were then surrounded by another, larger, octagon. The colours were cyan and white, but the order they appear in varied. Although the Office was renamed in July 2008, these continued to bear the old name until February 2009, where they were altered to read "IRISH FILM CLASSIFICATION OFFICE" and its Irish equivalent.

Video games

Unlike the BBFC in the UK, which prior to PEGI ratings becoming legally enforceable in the UK on 30 July 2012 rated video games that met certain criteria (such as very graphic violence), the Irish Film Censor's Office does not usually rate video games, leaving ratings to PEGI, unless the game's content is deemed prohibitable under section 3 (1) of the Act.

Only 11 games have ever been submitted to and rated by the IFCO:

Title Year Certificate
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty 2001 15
Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams 2001 15
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City 2002 18
Mafia 2002 15
Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance 2002 15
Unlimited Saga: Collector's Edition (Final Fantasy X-2: Eternal Calm bonus DVD) 2002 G
Grand Theft Auto 3 2003 18
Manhunt 2003 18
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne 2003 15
Silent Hill 3 2003 18
The Silent Hill Collection 2006 18 (overall)

Despite the lack of legally binding ratings, most (if not all) video game retailers attempt to prohibit the sale of PEGI 18+ rated games to people under the age of 18, and prior to PEGI ratings the same was done with BBFC 18 ratings on games (the same packaging is usually used in games sold in Ireland as in the UK).

The only prohibition notice for a video game was issued for Manhunt 2 in 2007.[2]


All decisions made with regard to certification, may be appealed for up to 6 months after the certificate is initially issued. An appeal is issued to the Classification of Films Appeal Board.

Works may also be submitted for re-classification after seven years since the original certification have passed (not an appeal per se, but rather seen as an update of classification based on current standards)

Refusals and bans

Films may be refused a certificate, e.g. on grounds of obscenity. Such films may not be shown in public cinemas or sold in shops, but are not ipso facto banned and have been shown at film festivals and art house clubs such as the Irish Film Theatre and Irish Film Institute. These may also show films which have not been submitted for certification, as the submission fee may be prohibitive if a film is screened only a few times at a small venue.

Despite the recommendations in the 2000 review of certification that no further films be banned, bans are still occasionally issued, although usually overturned on appeal. Boy Eats Girl, a 2005 movie, was initially banned, with the option of a cut being provided to the producers. On appeal, the film was passed uncut, and granted a 15A rating.

Movies which are never submitted for cinema release in Ireland are occasionally banned on attempted video releases, although only one such order was made in 2004, banning the pornographic Anabolic Initiations 5 (IMDb link), with the appeals board upholding the censor's order. One order was issued in 2005, reiterating the ban on Deep Throat. The only order in 2006 banned the pornographic film Steal Runaway.

Films and videos prohibited by the Classifier/Censor include:

Title type year lifted
I Spit on Your Grave film 2010
Manhunt 2[3] video game 2007 lifted
I Love to Fantasize film 2007
Love @ First Byte film 2007
Wild Cards film 2007
From Dusk Til Porn film 2007
Sizzling Sex Stars film 2003
Swingers Vacation 2: Secret Games film 2003
Vampire Vixens film 2003
Blue Hotel: Caught in the Act film 2003
Blue Matrix film 2003
Bad Lieutenant film 2003
Dracula's Dirty Daughters film 2003
Baise-moi film 2002 lifted
Better Sex III: How To Give a Woman Pleasure film 2002
Dark Garden film 2002
Showgirls film 1995 lifted
Natural Born Killers film 1994 lifted
Man Bites Dog film 1992 lifted
Meet the Feebles film 1989
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life film 1983 lifted 1990
Porky's film 1982 lifted
The Evil Dead film 1981 lifted
Monty Python's Life of Brian film 1979 lifted 1987
Debbie Does Dallas film 1978
Emmanuelle film 1974 lifted
Deep Throat film 1972 lifted
A Clockwork Orange film 1971 lifted 2000
Get Carter film 1971 lifted
Brief Encounter film 1945 lifted
The Great Dictator film 1940 lifted


Like many systems of entertainment classification, the IFCO has received criticism for several decisions they have made in the past. The board has been described as too zealous and conservative. Many titles that receive 15 certificates from the BBFC are rated 18 by the IFCO. DVD examples include Kick-Ass and Black Swan. Cinema examples (which bypass the 16 rating) include Charlie Countryman and Kidulthood.

However, the IFCO are more lenient with strong language than the BBFC are, especially with very strong language (e.g. 'cunt'). Examples include Frost/Nixon receiving a 15 in the UK but a PG completely uncut in Ireland despite four uses of 'fuck', and Gone Girl receiving an 18 in the UK but a 15 (on DVD) in Ireland despite four aggressive uses of 'cunt'. The 2014 documentary Red Army received a 12A in Ireland but a 15 in the UK for a single use of 'cocksucker' (when released on DVD, the rating was upgraded from 12A to 15).

Three titles in particular drew criticism of the board: Election, But I'm a Cheerleader and Brokeback Mountain.

The IFCO is established on a statutory basis and thus the appeals procedure is final. Thus, when a film or video game is banned, there can be no further appeal, but the work may be resubmitted after seven years.

See also


  1. Coyle, Colin (10 January 2010). "Ex-politicians paid €40,000 to watch films". Sunday Times. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  3. Lane, Frederick (21 June 2007). "Manhunt 2 Under Fire Around Globe". Sci-Tech Today. Retrieved 20 January 2010.

External links

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