Tuesday, 27 March 1990
Dáil Éireann Debate
I informed the House on 21 February last of the various tax incentives which have been introduced to facilitate the development of the Irish film industry and of the assistance being given to the industry by various State agencies. As a result, the industry has become progressively more professional and commercially successful over the past three years.
Mr. Moynihan: Will the Taoiseach accept that the worldwide publicity given to this film and the speeches by Daniel Day Lewis and Brenda Fricker last night have done enormous good for Ireland, for the tourist industry, for our national reputation and even for economic development in the future? If he accepts this, surely he must accept that it is grossly unfair to rely on the creative efforts and hard work of a few individuals to put Ireland on the world stage. Surely he must be willing to rethink his attitude on State support for the Irish film industry.
The Taoiseach: I am very happy to join with the Deputy in offering our congratulations to all those who are connected with this very successful film and particularly to the winners of the Oscar awards. We are all very proud of them. They certainly merit our best thanks and congratulations for what they have done for our country.
I would like to suggest that the incentives we have for film making are very generous and, indeed, were widely availed of in the making of this film. However, if, as a result of the experience of making of this film and of its success, there is any further way in which the incentives can be developed or extended, we are prepared to consider that. I would not like the Deputy or anybody else to be under the impression that there are not already very considerable incentives for film making.
Mr. Moynihan: Does the Taoiseach not accept the the success of “My Left Foot” can be repeated many times over given the very large number of talented people we have in Ireland and the range of production and marketing skills that are already available? Will he not accept that what these people need most is the understanding that if they have good ideas they will get the financial support they need without having to go abroad to look for this support? I would add that past experience has shown that it is clearly beyond any doubt that Irish produced films to name a few, “Ryan's Daughter”, “The Dawn”, “The Quiet Man”, have done more for the expansion of Irish tourism than Bord Fáilte could ever attempt to do.
The Taoiseach: The Deputy is making a very good case, but I would like to point out to him that three recent films, “My Left Foot,”“Eat the Peach” and “Rattle and Hum” have all benefited from the fairly considerable incentives which are there. As the Deputy knows, there is another film — I am not sure if it is completed but it is well on its way to completion —“The Field” which has also had access to these incentives. What the Deputy says about the value of these films is, of course, quite correct and that is recognised in the system of incentives we have. I can ony repeat that if as a result of recent experience in the making of these films there is some way in which the incentives might be improved or extended, that can be considered.
Mr. McCartan: Let me join with the other Deputies who have spoken in extending congratulations to the people involved in the success of “My Left Foot”. Will the Taoiseach agree that the few small examples that have been given here are really examples of excellence but that there is a whole range of other people coming out of film school and elsewhere who have nowhere to turn so that there is a great deal to be done by the Taoiseach in providing start off capital for those who may not have the good fortune that perhaps some of those involved in the more recent examples that have been quoted here had in finding finance from abroad or elsewhere? Will the Taoiseach agree that this whole area needs to be looked at in terms of encouraging and developing a film industry in this country?
The Taoiseach: Yes, but last Sunday I read an article in one of the British Sunday newspapers in relation to a recently produced British film, “Henry V,” that British support for its film industry was the worst in Europe. That must mean we are not the worst anyway. I should also like to point out to the Deputy that Australia is held up to us all as an example but the success of the Australian film industry is primarily due to a tax incentive based system of support. We  are on the right lines here in offering tax incentive investment support but, if any improvements can be made, I am perfectly prepared to listen to any suggestions and I am sure the Minister for Finance would listen sympathetically.
Mr. Spring: In associating myself with the congratulations already rendered inside and outside the House in regard to this great achievement, I wish to draw the Taoiseach's attention to the description of the Irish film industry by Brenda Fricker last night as a cottage industry which leaves a lot to be desired. In referring to Australia, will the Taoiseach agree that there is a need to show positive initiative on the part of the Government by setting up a film commission as has already been recommended by no less a person than Noel Pearson? Will the Taoiseach offer some positive gesture today in relation to our great achievements last night?
The Taoiseach: When the Deputy asks me to show some positive gesture, I can only repeat that there are positive, valuable and useful incentives already in place which have been availed of in the case of four recent films.
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