Tribute for Higgins at film award ceremony Michael D Higgins: IFTA prize
PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins is to be honoured at the Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTAs) on April 5.
The IFTAs will pay tribute to his "outstanding contribution" to the movie-making industry in Ireland over many years.
Aine Moriarty, chief executive of the academy, said: "The Academy is proud to pay tribute to President Higgins, who has shown the Irish industry unwavering support over many years as a creative artist in his own right, as the Minister for Arts, a dynamic leader and as President of Ireland."
The televised ceremony will include several famous guests, such as Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan, Steve Coogan, Jeremy Irons, and Colm Meaney. Among the nominees for IFTA awards this year are Saoirse Ronan, Michael Fassbender, Colin Farrell, Amy Huberman, Fionnula Flanagan, and Brendan and Domhnall Gleeson.
Ms Moriarty said Mr Higgins's vision and commitment to the arts as Minister for the Arts transformed the industry through a range of initiatives from tax incentives to training and the re-establishment of the Irish Film Board, ultimately encouraging investment and creating thousands of jobs.
She said 'Braveheart' in 1994 was the first blockbuster film to use Ireland as a location under new tax incentives (now Section 481 and then 35) and the then minister was a direct influence on this decision, encouraging Mel Gibson to choose Ireland as his location along with Irish crew and talent.
Meanwhile, Mr Higgins paid tribute to author, broadcaster, journalist, trade unionist and former senator Sam McAughtry.
Mr McAughtry passed away last week at the age of 91, following a long battle with illness.
He expressed his sadness at learning of the celebrated author's death.
"He will be remembered as a man of immense talent and integrity, who continually and courageously sought ways of making a positive and cross-community contribution to the discourse of peace in his native Northern Ireland," he said.