Censorship of video and DVD recordings
The Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO), formerly called the Irish Film Censor's Office is responsible for examining all video/DVD recordings for sale or distribution in Ireland. The primary legislation covering censorship of video/DVD recordings is the Video Recordings Act 1989, as amended by the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 (pdf).
A video or DVD can be:
- Classified as being suitable for a specific age group
- Classified as not suitable for viewing.
A video/DVD can be prohibited if, in the opinion of IFCO the viewing of it:
- Would be likely to cause people to commit crimes,
- Would be likely to stir up hatred against a group of people in the State or elsewhere or
- Would tend, because it is obscene or indecent, to deprave or corrupt,
- It depicts acts of gross violence or cruelty (including mutilation and torture) towards humans or animals.
IFCO is not obliged to give a video/DVD the same classification as the feature film and a video and DVD may be classified differently from each other if they contain different material. In general, Irish classifications are broadly similar to those in existence in other countries.
Video/DVD classifications currently in use
The current classifications are as follows:
- G: suitable for viewers generally, (including children of school going age).
- PG: suitable for viewers generally, but parental guidance is recommended for children under 12
- 12: suitable for people aged 12 or over.
- 15: suitable for people aged 15 or over.
- 18: suitable for persons age 18 or over
Offences and penalties under the Video Recordings Act
There are a number of offences under the Video Recordings Act, including the importation, possession or supply of prohibited or wrongly certified videos/DVDs or supplying videos/DVDs without a licence. It is an offence to supply a video/DVD to someone who is younger than the class the video/DVD is certified as suitable for.
Members of the public may report violations (and suspected violations) of the Act directly to the IFCO or to the Gardai who are authorised to seize prohibited or wrongly classified videos/DVDs from suppliers. The penalties for breaches of the Act include fines and, in certain cases, imprisonment.
Making a complaint
You can make a complaint about IFCO decisions on classification. If you are not satisfied with IFCO’s decision on your complaint you can escalate your complaint to the relevant Ombudsman. For complaints regarding children contact the Office of the Ombudsman for Children, for all other complaints contact the Office of the Ombudsman.
Appealing against a classification of a video/DVD
The Classification of Films Appeal Board has 9 members who are appointed by the Minister for Justice and Equality. An appeal against a decision of IFCO in relation to the classification of a video/DVD to the Classification of Films Appeal Board must be made within three months of the date of classification.
Records held by IFCO
IFCO holds registers of certified and prohibited works and also registers of licences of video/DVD retailers and wholesalers. These registers may be examined at their office. At present, no fee is charged for this service.
There is no fee for making a complaint to an Ombudsman.
IFCO, which is self-financing, charges fees to video/DVD distributors and suppliers to offset the costs of licensing, certification, classification and appeals.
The fee for an appeal to the Censorship of Films Appeals Board is €1,000. The fee is refunded if the appeal is successful.