Monday 22 April 2019

Ex-politicians vetting X-rated films for €182 a day

JOHN DRENNAN

TEN politically appointed censors were each paid an average of €30,000 a year for watching films.

The "Assistant Classifiers" earned a total of €1.2m in pay and expenses over the last four years for travelling to Dublin to watch movies and deciding whether or not they should be banned, or for what age group they are suitable. No individual breakdown of the earnings of the part-time classifiers was provided.

The film censor's office confirmed that the hard working classifiers assess over 9,000 videos in every category from Parental Guidance (PG) to X-rated films, which include sexually explicit material.

Assistant film classifiers earn €182 a day plus travel and subsistence for their work of classifying videos, said the Fine Gael justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan. Among the Assistant Classifiers is former senator Tom Fitzgerald, who must make the arduous journey from Kerry to Harcourt Terrace in Dublin to watch movies on behalf of the State.

Of the 10, many of whom have no apparent qualifications in the area of film, a number have been Assistant Classifiers for 15 years.

Among them is former Fianna Fail Dail candidate Olga Bennett, the Fianna Fail Meath activist Tony Stapleton, former Kildare Fianna Fail county councillor PJ Sheridan and the former Fianna Fail TD Marian McGennis, who was Bertie Ahern's running mate in Dublin Central in 1997 and 2002.

Former Fianna Fail senator Tom Fitzgerald, who was a close associate of Charles Haughey, has been in the job for the last six years.

A more recently appointee is Green activist Elizabeth Davidson, who ran for the party in the Dublin South West constituency. Ms Davidson is also a candidate for the forthcoming local elections and a member of the Green Party's national executive.

"In this new age of quango busting, where departments were supposed to look forensically through their books, it was amazing this convenient retirement home, where ex Fianna Fail politicians and one Green activist get paid to spend the day watching films, had escaped unscathed,'' said Mr Flanagan.

"The minister should give this particular perk an X-rating and abolish it."

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