Irish law governing films and video/DVD censorship - at IFCO we prefer the word ‘classification’ - is set out in two main acts: the Censorship of Films, 1923 and the Video Recordings Act, 1989.
The remit of the Director of Film Classification was first established by the CENSORSHIP OF FILMS ACT, 1923. This short and remarkably succinct piece of legislation, although drafted during the silent movie era, remains the basis upon which IFCO operates today.
The Act provides that no picture shall be exhibited in public unless the Director of Film Classification had certified that is suitable and a certificate is displayed to that effect.
Section 7 (2) of the Act states that “the Official Censor shall certify the picture unless he is of the opinion that such picture or some part thereof is unfit for general exhibition in public by reason of its being indecent, obscene or blasphemous or because the exhibition thereof in public would tend to inculcate principles contrary to public morality or would be otherwise subversive of public morality.
The Act gives the Director of Film Classification the power to prohibit a picture or to impose conditions or restrictions upon its exhibition.
It also established the Classification of Films Appeal Board, consisting of nine members who are appointed by the Minister. The Board has the power to reverse or vary a decision of the Director of Film Classification and its decision is final.
The advent of the video-recorder resulted in the introduction of the VIDEO RECORDINGS ACT, 1989.
The Act, which runs to nearly seventy pages, provides among its detailed provisions that the Director of Film Classification shall certify a video work as fit for viewing, unless:
- it would be likely to cause persons to commit a crime
- it would be likely to stir up hatred against a group of persons on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community or sexual orientation
- it would tend to deprave or corrupt because it is obscene or indecent
- it depicts acts of gross violence or cruelty (including mutilation and torture) towards humans or animals
It also provides for the issuing of Wholesale and Retail Video Licenses and it sets out a range of relevant offences and penalties.
CENSORSHIP OF FILMS (AMENDMENT) ACT, 1930
Extended the Censorship of Films Acts, 1923 to include the 'talkies', which the Act defined as "vocal or other sounds produced by mechanical means as an accompaniment to and in synchronisation with cinematograph pictures".
CENSORSHIP OF FILMS (AMENDMENT) ACT, 1970
Enabled films to be re-submitted for certification after seven years.
CENSORSHIP OF FILMS (AMENDMENT) ACT, 1992
Enabled the Minister for Justice to appoint Assistant Censors to assist the Official Censor of Films in the performance of his functions.