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Irish Film Classification Office
Established: 1923
Director of Film Classification John Kelleher
Deputy Director Ger Connolly
Budget: Unknown
Employees: 21
The Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) ( ) is the organisation responsible for film and some video game classification and censorship within the Republic of Irelandmarker. 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 1930, 1972 and 1990; 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:


Cinematic certificates

The current cinematic certificates that are issued are:

  • GEN – General - Suitable for all
  • PG – Parental Guidance - Parents are strongly advised to accompany younger children
  • 12A – Minimum age for admission is 12, but younger children may be admitted if accompanied by an adult (12PG until late 2004)
  • 15A – Minimum age for admission is 15, but younger children may be admitted if accompanied by an adult (15PG until late 2004)
  • 16 – Minimum age for admission is 16. (Certificate introduced after the film Bad Santa received a 15PG cert and many parents brought young children to it, unaware of its adult content.)
  • 18 – Minimum age for admission is 18

Note: In "12A" and "15A" the "A" denotes "Accompanied".

DVD/VHS certificates

The current certificates for DVD and VHS that are issued are:

  • G – General - Suitable for all
  • PG – Parental Guidance - Parents are strongly advised to watch with younger children
  • 12RA (no longer used) – Suitable for people aged 12 and over, but people under this age may view with an adult, but not to be supplied to someone below that age.
  • 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
NOTE: In "12RA" the "RA" denotes "Responsible Adult"

Standard cinematic-DVD/VHS 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 DVD/VHS, 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 DVD/VHS release, please see below the table.

The standard crossovers are as follows:
Cinema Certificate DVD/VHS Certificate
12A 12
15A 15
16 15 or 18
18 18
* The certificate "12RA" does NOT have a corresponding cinematic certificate, and thus, does not have a standard crossover (certain 12A films received the certificate before it was withdrawn in the early 2000s).

If the two rules above apply to a film's DVD/VHS release, then, generally, it will be re-rated completely, but this does not mean DVD/VHS certificates will always coincide, as occasionally (usually the DVD) one edition will contain extra features while the other doesn't, 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 receive a 15 certificate on VHS but an 18 certificate on DVD; usually DVDs in these circumstances will carry a label on the reverse, informing you of this).

Certificate Logos

==== Cinema ====


a censor's stamp on a 2004 DVD
Until February 2009, the DVD/VHS 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 UKmarker, which rates video games that meet 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. Games rated by the IFCO include Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Manhunt, which were given 15 and 18 ratings, respectively.

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 first prohibition notice for a video game was issued for Manhunt 2 in 2007[110079].


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)

Other information

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 arthouse clubs such as the Irish Film Institutemarker. 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.

The "16" certificate was introduced in December 2004 after complaints about the "15PG" certificate being awarded to Bad Santa, which also led to the change from "12PG" to "12A" and "15PG" to "15A". Paradoxically, out of all the many complaints made to talk shows, cinemas, etc., the Office itself only received two.

9 Songs, in October 2004, became the first film featuring explicit sex scenes to receive a certificate, criteria which had led to the banning of Baise-Moi in 2000.

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 movie Steal Runaway.

In an unusual move, four orders were issued at once, or at least reported at once, in the 19 January 2007 Iris Oifigiúil. These covered the video releases of four pornographic films. No other orders have been issued to date in 2007.

In recent years a "Consumer Warning" on trailers and advertising has been given in some cases, in exchange for a lower certificate, such as on Veronica Guerin, downrated to 15A from 18. This warning provides a more detailed description of the content than a rating figure can in some circumstances. Occasionally borderline cases, such as 28 Weeks Later, are not warned on marketing materials, but only on the IFCO website, which all advertisements must carry the URL of.


Like many systems of entertainment classification the IFCO has been subject to backlash for several decisions they have made in the past. Most accusations stem from the board being considered too overzealous and conservative. Many titles that receive 15 certificates from the BBFC are rated 18 by the IFCO. Three titles in particular have garnered the board much harsh criticism; Election, But I'm a Cheerleader and Brokeback Mountain. While the films have little or no violent or sexual content (and are rated 15 by the BBFC) all three were given 18 certificates in Ireland, leading many to believe the certificates were given solely due to the homosexual content of the films. However, Brokeback Mountain was rated 16 by IFCO when it was released in cinemas (its 18 rating is only on DVD). '15' in Britain denotes an adults-only rating, while, in Ireland, the 15A-rating admits children accompanied by adults. 16 is an adults only rating in Ireland.

Owing to the fact that the IFCO is established on a statutory basis, the appeals procedure is final. Thus, where a decision by the censor to ban a film or video game is made and this ban is approved by Classification of Films Appeal Board there is no further grounds of appeal, only the option of resubmission after seven years.


Films and videos banned by the Classifier/Censor include:

Relationship with BBFC

Packaging of videos and DVDs is usually specific to each of Ireland and the UK, but often a video or DVD would be released with a British cover and the Irish censorship rating stuck over the British one until recently. Actual DVDs however are often produced for both countries and carry two ratings; for example, Jerry Bruckheimer's King Arthur carries both an Irish "15" and British "12" rating or Borat which carries the Irish 18 certificate and the BBFC's 15 certificate.

Previously it was prohibited, by the BBFC, for DVD/VHS packaging to carry any other logos of ratings. However, this was changed in 2004. The change allowed for Irish ratings to also be displayed on the same box, if they were the same. The only exception is a dual labelled General/Universal, due to the fact that the ratings' meanings are actually the same. Dual labelled discs continue to be permitted, even if the rating is not the same.

See also


External links

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