Irish Film Classification Office

From Audiovisual Identity Database

Credits
Descriptions by
LogoFun13-YT, DatuDimatablan

Captures by
LogoFun13-YT, DatuDimatablan

Editions by
DatuDimatablan

Background

The Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) (Irish: Oifig Aicmithe Scannán na hÉireann, OASÉ), formerly the Irish Film Censor's Office until July 21, 2008, is responsible for issuing age ratings for cinema and home video releases of films in the Republic of Ireland. They were established in 1923 and their certificates are legally binding.

Not much information is available about historical film certificates, because their website was only established in September 2004 and only shows certificates from then onward, but here's what's available combined with the current certificates:

Video

Video certificates were introduced by the IFCO on September 1, 1994. One of the first certified titles was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (rated G). Conviction penalties for those trading in uncertified videos took effect on the same day and included fines of up to 1,000 (Irish) pounds and a prison sentence of up to three years.

The system has remained mostly the same for over two decades:

Symbol Description Notes
G
General
Fit for viewing by persons generally.
PG
Parental Guidance
Fit for viewing generally, but in the case of a child under 12 years, under parental guidance.
12 RA
Responsible Adult
Fit for viewing by persons aged 12 years or more, but in the case of a child under 12 years, under parental guidance. This certificate has been retired, see the section "Retired Certificates" for more information.
12 Fit for viewing by persons aged 12 years or more.
15 Fit for viewing by persons aged 15 years or more.
18 Fit for viewing by persons aged 18 years or more.
Retired certificates
  • 12 RA - Not suitable for people aged younger than 12 unless they view with an adult, and not to be supplied to someone below that age. The designation "RA" stands for "Responsible Adult". It was officially replaced in 1996 by the PG and 12 home video ratings, and was completely withdrawn around 2003.

The last known release with a 12 RA certificate is Only Fools and Horses - The Complete Series 7, first released in 2004 and re-issued in 2009 as part of a box set called The Complete Collection. By then it had been re-rated PG, although the other releases in the collection raised the overall certificate to a 12. Films issued with a 12 RA certificate upon original release are automatically re-rated 12 when re-released, apart from if they're re-submitted and obtain a lower or higher certificate under modern guidelines.

  • 18 RA - Not suitable for people aged younger than 18 unless they view with an adult, and not to be supplied to someone below that age. The "RA" stands for "Responsible Adult". It's unknown when this was withdrawn. The only known release with this certificate is a 1995 live show by Irish comedian Brendan O'Carroll (now known for Mrs Brown's Boys), titled How's Your Snowballs. The outer packaging displayed an 18 certificate, although the cassette label displayed an 18 RA certificate. A DVD version also exists, although it's unknown what certificate is displayed on the disc, the outer packaging displays an 18 certificate as on the VHS version.


Cinema

Cinema certificates were introduced by the Justice Minister (Brian Lenihan) in January 1965, after public complaints about the large number of films being banned - several cited the British Board of Film Censors' model as an example to look up to.

At the same time as appointing a brand new Appeals Board, he introduced three certificates:

  • G (General) - Suitable for all ages.
  • 16 - Confined to persons over 16 years of age.
  • 18 - Confined to persons over 18 years of age.

Not much is known about the next three decades of certification, as the IFCO's website only lists cinema releases certified from August 2004 onward and video releases from June 2009 onward, but the systems used from June 1, 2001 onwards are available.

On December 9, 2004, an overhaul was announced by then-Film Censor John Kelleher, which came into effect on January 1, 2005. The changes were as follows:

  • A new "16" certificate was introduced. Where films carry this certificate, admission is restricted to persons aged sixteen and over.
  • The existing "12PG" and "15PG" certificates were re-designated ‘12A’ and ‘15A’, where the ‘A’ denotes adult.
June 1, 2001-January 1, 2005
Symbol Description
G
General
Suitable for all ages.
PG
Parental Guidance
Suitable for all ages, but parental guidance advised.
12PG Films in this category are, in the opinion of the Film Censor, suitable for those aged 12 and over only. However, children under that age will be admitted if accompanied by an adult.
15PG Films in this category are, in the opinion of the Film Censor, suitable for those aged 15 and over only. However, children under that age will be admitted if accompanied by an adult.
18 Admission is restricted to persons aged 18 and over.
January 1, 2005-present
Symbol Description
G
General
Suitable for children of a school going age.
PG
Parental Guidance
Suitable for children aged 8 and over.
12A Suitable for viewers of 12 and over. However, they can also be seen by younger children, provided they are accompanied by an adult who has deemed the film appropriate viewing for that child.
15A Suitable for viewers of 15 and over. However, they can also be seen by younger children, provided they are accompanied by an adult who has deemed the film appropriate viewing for that child.
16 Suitable for viewers of 16 and over (admission is restricted to that age).
18 Suitable for viewers of 18 and over (admission is restricted to that age).


1st Bumper (January 18, 1965-1980s?)


Bumper: We see the Irish Gaelic headings, "ACHTANNA UM SCRUDOIREACHT" and "SCANNAN, 1923 GO 1930" (translated in English as "Censorship of Films Acts, 1923 to 1930"). Below this is the certificate issued to the film, followed by the title, the Film Censor's initials (on the left) and his signature (on the right).

Certification Symbols and their Descriptions:

Symbol Description Notes
G Suitable for all ages. G stands for "General"
16 Confined to persons over 16 years of age.
18 Confined to persons over 18 years of age.

Technique: None.

Music/Sounds: None.

Availability: Seen in cinemas before all films released from January 18, 1965 up to an unknown date.

  • In terms of public availability, extremely rare. The only available examples are from 1966, for the Don Weis comedy The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, and from 1974, for a reissue of Casablanca. Both had General certificates which were retrieved from Alamy, an online stock photo archive, and Prop Store, a prop auction site, respectively.

2nd Bumper (1980s?-June 1, 2001)


Bumper: On a black background, we see the heading "CENSORSHIP OF FILMS ACTS, 1923 to 1992"; the Irish Gaelic translation is displayed above (with "GO" in uppercase). The logo of the Irish Film Censor's office is displayed above the Irish Gaelic translation of the heading. Below the heading is the certification symbol issued to the film, followed by the film's title. Below the film's title is a message stating "This film is suitable for exhibition", with the corresponding description of the rating (in English) below it. The Irish Gaelic translation of the same message appears above the rating and below the certification symbol., On the bottom left of the certificate, just near the bottom boundary line, is the Film Censor's initials (with the phrase "a scrúdaigh"), and to the right of it is his signature (with the stacked phrases "Scrúdóir Na Scannán" and "Film Censor" below, the former phrase is the Irish Gaelic translation of the latter). The entire content of the certificate is sandwiched by white horizontal lines, one above and one below.

For certificates rated PG and higher, the phrase "LIMITED CERTIFICATE" is displayed to the right of the certification symbol (bolded and italicised), with the Irish Gaelic translation of that phrase ("DEIMHNÚ TEORANTA") to the left of the symbol, in the same font effects as the other phrase.

Certification Symbols and their Descriptions:

Symbol Description
G General
PG Parental Guidance: Some scenes may be unsuitable for young children.
12 Suitable for 12 years and over. Admission is restricted to that age.
15 Suitable for 15 years and over. Admission is restricted to that age.
18 Suitable for 18 years and over. Admission is restricted to that age.

Certificates used throughout the 1980s and 1990s include U12ACC and 16; the former was retired in the mid-1990s and the latter was retired around 1990. However, since the only available certificate of this design on this wiki is from 1999, it is currently unknown if there are certificate cards that carry those two ratings.

Variants:

  • For certificate cards issued between the 1970 and 1992 amendments of the Censorship of Films Acts, the heading would be displayed as "CENSORSHIP OF FILMS ACTS, 1923 to 1970" in both English and Irish Gaelic.

Technique: None.

Music/Sounds: None.

Availability: Seen in cinemas before all films from an unknown date up until June 1, 2001.

  • In terms of public availability, extremely rare. The only available examples so far are from 1999, for The World is Not Enough (seen above) and the IMAX 3D film T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous (both rated PG), the latter being the first cinema release of its kind in Ireland and was given a limited certificate of PG. An image showing the IFCO's certificate issued for T-Rex was released by the Twitter account of IMAX Dublin (@imaxdublin) on September 6, 2017.



3rd Bumper (June 1, 2001-January 1, 2005)


Bumper: Similar to the 1980s/1990s bumper, but with the following changes:

  • All text are now in Gill Sans instead of Times New Roman.
  • The border lines and the underline supporting the film's title are in a secondary colour based on the film's certification symbol.
  • The phrase "CENSORSHIP OF FILMS ACTS, 1923 to 1992" is italicised (the Irish Gaelic translation above it is still not italicised).
  • The certification symbols have a new look and displayed on the cards with an embossed effect.
  • The description of the certification symbol appears below the film's title and is only in English.
  • There is no space for the Film Censor's initials.
  • The Film Censor's signature still appears in the same position, with the phrase "SCRÚDÓIR NA SCANNÁN" (Irish Gaelic for "FILM CENSOR") underneath without the corresponding English translation.
  • For certificates rated PG and higher, the italicised phrase "DEIMHNÚ TEORANTA" (Irish Gaelic for "LIMITED CERTIFICATE") is displayed to the bottom left of the certificate, just near the bottom line and aligned with the left side of the film's title, in the space where the Film Censor's initials was in the previous bumper. 

Certification Symbols and their Descriptions:

Symbol Description
G General
PG Parental Guidance
12PG Suitable for 12 years and over. Children under that age can be admitted if accompanied by an adult.
15PG Suitable for 15 years and over. Children under that age can be admitted if accompanied by an adult.
18 Suitable for 18 years and over. Admission is restricted to that age.

Technique: None.

Music/Sounds: None.

Availability: Seen in cinemas before all films from June 1, 2001 to January 1, 2005.



4th Bumper (January 1, 2005- )


Bumper: We see the logo of the Irish Film Classification Office, and on the right, a white heading saying "IRISH FILM CLASSIFICATION OFFICE"; the Irish Gaelic translation is displayed below (both text are vertically separated by a salmon-coloured line), along with the red text "CENSORSHIP OF FILMS ACTS, 1923 TO 1992" in both Irish Gaelic and English. Below this is the certificate issued to the film, followed by the film's title, the corresponding description of the certificate, the link to the IFCO's website ("www.ifco.ie") on the space where the Film Censor's initials was on pre-2001 certificate cards, and the Director's signature (with the name of his position stated below).

The border lines and the underline for the film's title are now coloured salmon regardless of the certification symbol, the font for the film title is a bold Helvetica-like one in uppercase, and the font for all other text is in Gill Sans. For placeholder certificates, the film's title is displayed as "INSERT TITLE HERE".

Certification Symbols and their Descriptions:

Symbol Description
G General. Suitable for all persons.
PG Parental Guidance: Some scenes may be unsuitable for young children.
12A Suitable only for 12 years and over. Persons under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.
15A Suitable only for 15 years and over. Persons under 15 must be accompanied by an adult.
16 Only for persons of 16 years and over.
18 Only for persons of 18 years and over.

Variants:

  • Films classified before July 20, 2008 have the heading displayed as "IRISH FILM CENSOR'S OFFICE", in both English and Irish Gaelic.
  • The director's name changes depending on who was in that position when the film was classified:
    • January 1, 2005-November 20, 2009: John Kelleher (as Director)
    • November 20, 2009-May 2016: Ger Connolly (as Acting Director)
    • May 2016 onwards: Ger Connolly (as Director)

Technique: None.

Music/Sounds: None.

Availability: Seen in cinemas before all films from January 1, 2005 onward.

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