Irish Film Classification Office
|Acting Director of Film Classification||Ger Connolly|
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.
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:
- Acting Director of Film Classification – Ger Connolly
- Deputy Director – Vacant
- 10 Assistant Classifiers
- Office Manager
- 6 Civil Servants from the Department of Justice and Equality
- 2 Projectionists
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.
The current cinematic certificates that are issued are:
- G – General: Suitable for all
- PG – Parental Guidance: Suitable for children aged eight and older; parents are advised to accompany younger children.
- 12A – Minimum age for admission is 12, but younger children can be admitted if accompanied by an adult (formerly 12PG).
- 15A – Minimum age for admission is 15, but younger children can be admitted if accompanied by an adult (formerly 15PG).
- 16 – Minimum age for admission is 16; younger viewers will not be admitted under any circumstance (introduced on 1 January 2005).
- 18 – Minimum age for admission is 18; younger viewers will not be admitted under any circumstance.
Home video certificates
The current certificates for home video formats such as DVD and Blu-ray that are issued are:
- G – General: Suitable for all
- PG – Suitable for general viewing, but parents are advised to watch with children younger than 12 years old.
- 12 – Suitable for people aged 12 and over, and not to be supplied to someone below that age.
- 15 – Suitable for people aged 15 and over, and not to be supplied to someone below that age.
- 18 – Suitable for people aged 18 and over, and not to be supplied to someone below that age.
A retired certificate only used on home video is:
- 12RA (no longer issued) Not suitable for people aged younger than 12 unless they view with an adult, and not to be supplied to someone below that age. The "RA" stands for "Responsible Adult".
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:
- There is no extra material (bonuses, trailers, etc.) which is not appropriate to the main feature, and would cause it to receive a higher certificate.
- The film has not been edited (material taken out, etc.) in a way which would cause the main feature to receive a lower certificate.
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|
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).
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.
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:
|Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty||2001||15|
|Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams||2001||15|
|Grand Theft Auto: Vice City||2002||18|
|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|
|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.
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:
|I Spit on Your Grave||film||2010|
|Manhunt 2||video game||2007||lifted|
|I Love to Fantasize||film||2007|
|Love @ First Byte||film||2007|
|From Dusk Til Porn||film||2007|
|Sizzling Sex Stars||film||2003|
|Swingers Vacation 2: Secret Games||film||2003|
|Blue Hotel: Caught in the Act||film||2003|
|Dracula's Dirty Daughters||film||2003|
|Better Sex III: How To Give a Woman Pleasure||film||2002|
|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|
|The Evil Dead||film||1981||lifted|
|Monty Python's Life of Brian||film||1979||lifted 1987|
|Debbie Does Dallas||film||1978|
|A Clockwork Orange||film||1971||lifted 2000|
|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).
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.
- British Board of Film Classification - the equivalent body to the IFCO in the United Kingdom
- Censorship in the Republic of Ireland
- Television content rating systems
- Coyle, Colin (10 January 2010). "Ex-politicians paid €40,000 to watch films". Sunday Times. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
- Lane, Frederick (21 June 2007). "Manhunt 2 Under Fire Around Globe". Sci-Tech Today. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
- Irish Film Classification Office – official site
- Irish Film Classification Office article in The Independent