Dáil Éireann - Volume 387 - 07 March, 1989

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Irish Film Industry.

3. Mrs. Barnes asked the Taoiseach the new proposals he has for the development of the Irish film industry; and the scale of growth in the industry which he targets on foot of these proposals.

The Taoiseach: The development of the Irish film industry is being facilitated through the advice and assistance provided by a number of State agencies, including NADCORP, the IDA, CTT and the Arts Council. In addition, the tax reliefs under section 35 of the 1987 Finance Act, the 10 per cent rate of corporation tax and the business expansion scheme provide a generous range of incentives for the development of a commercially successful film industry.

A bilateral agreement on film and video co-productions will be concluded in the very near future between Ireland and Canada. Several production companies in both countries are planning to use the framework provided by that agreement to shoot a number of major productions here. The potential of [2355] schemes now being initiated by the European Community through its media programme for script development and related film matters is being pursued by my Department.

The value of our TV and film exports in 1988 was estimated by CTT to have amounted to £20 million, an increase of 60 per cent over the corresponding figure for 1987. CTT estimates that the value of exports from that sector in 1989 will amount to £25 million.

Mrs. Barnes: Would the Taoiseach not agree that the figures he has given with regard to the export potential from that sector, not to talk of the national potential it would have, is but the tip of the iceberg of what we could have here? I ask the Taoiseach to consider re-establishing the National Film Board so that all the facilities, subsidies and incentives could be concentrated through one board. I am sure the Taoiseach is well aware of the example which, for instance, Australia offers us with regard to the investment and State support which their film industry received which allowed them to expand their creative and technical skills, of which we have plenty here, thereby enhancing their national image. We are not recognising the creative talents and technical skills we have in this area and we are forcing those involved in this industry to emigrate. I ask the Taoiseach, who is dedicated to the arts, to keep the potential and skills we have in this country and use them in the various areas in which they can be used ——

An Ceann Comhairle: I think the Deputy has made her point.

Mrs. Barnes: ——to their fullest potential.

Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): Crocodile Dundee to reply.

The Taoiseach: The Deputy will, I hope, agree with me that it is a difficult area. We have not had much success in State aid for film making and production. [2356] I would have to say that the film board were not a success and were responsible for the expenditure of considerable public funds without any visible return. There is now a range of incentives, the main one of which we were asked to provide by the industry and we have agreed to that proposal. There is also, of course, the question which a number of people in the film business concentrate on, that is, the preparation of film scripts. This proposal is being looked into by the Department. I take note of what the Deputy has said and if anything arises that would appear to help in addition to the incentives already there I would have no objection to considering them favourably.

Mr. R. Bruton: May I ask the Taoiseach if he favours the notion of a development fund, which has been put forward by the film makers of Ireland? Does he not think that section 35 has been less successful then was hoped and that possibly this has been due to the fact that the film industry is very different from an ordinary industry in terms of tax incentives? It is not a capital-intensive, investment type industry. Would he, therefore, look both at the notion of development and at the possibility of a review of section 35 in the light of experience?

The Taoiseach: Yes, I would have to confirm that section 35 does not appear to have worked wonders, to put it mildly, but there are proposals coming up which will be looked at.

Mr. J. Bruton: Will the Taoiseach be introducing legislation to repeal the legislation which established the film board?

The Taoiseach: The disestablishment of the film board is still proceeding.

Mr. J. Bruton: Would the Taoiseach agree that it is desirable that such legislation be brought forward and that bodies that have been established by law should [2357] not be capable of being set aside without the sanction of law?

The Taoiseach: I agree.