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Tuesday 25 June 2019

Censor calls 'cut' on moral guardian role

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

The Irish Film Censor's Office will remove the "censorship" part from its name as it emerged only four pornographic films and one video game fell foul of its powers last year.

The modern Film Censor has come a long way from sparing our blushes by leaving Elvis's pelvic gyrations on the cutting- room floor.

Current head of the Irish Film Censor's Office (IFCO) John Kelleher believes that the role of moral guardian of the masses is long gone.

And to reflect the seismic shift in the ethos of the censor over the past 85 years, the title of "Censor" will soon be no more. "The Minister (for Justice) is planning to change, at my request, the name of the office.

"I understand that an amendment is in the pipeline which will change our name from the Irish Film Censor's Office to the Irish Film Classification Office. I think for most people, that would be a very welcome change," said Mr Kelleher.


Four hardcore pornographic DVDs and one video game have fallen foul of the Irish censor over the past year.

Altogether, staff at the Irish Film Censor's Office (IFCO) reviewed more than 8,000 items. None of the 280 feature films and more than 300 film trailers was deemed unpalatable for public consumption.

However, the same cannot be said of four extreme pornographic DVDs and the video game Manhunt 2, which were all banned in 2007.

The DVDs were banned as they were found to be "indecent or obscene" and "likely to deprave or corrupt".

And while gamers were furious with John Kelleher's decision to ban Manhunt 2 last June, research has shown that the wider public supports his decision.

Mr Kelleher said that while the average profile of a gamer was a male aged 28, he believed there was a big difference between watching a violent film in the controlled environment of a cinema and a video game where the player "became the murderer".

"You are doing the stabbing, the mutilation and the killing. With this particular game it's non-stop."

Among the films to have been banned on the grounds of indecency down through the years are Elvis' 'King Creole' and Woody Allen's 1972 comedy, 'Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex'. More recently, Oliver Stone's 'Natural Born Killers' was also banned.


But even Hollywood classics were considered too racy for Irish viewers in years gone by. 'Casablanca', which regularly tops best film lists, provoked the ire of the Censor in 1945. Scenes showing the affair between Ingmar Bergman's Ilsa and Humphrey Bogart's Rick didn't make it onto the big screen.

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