Irish Equity welcomes Oireachtas Committee recommendations on Film Tax Credit 

Irish Equity has called for the full implementation of the recommendations contained in a report issued this week by the Oireachtas Committee on Budgetary Oversight concerning the operation of the Section 481-Film Tax Credit, saying they will benefit workers and tax payers.

Irish Equity President, Gerry O’Brien, said: “The report is extremely fair in examining not just the benefits of the film industry to Ireland but also recognising and addressing some of the inequities that exist within it. From our point of view, the implementation of the recommendations surrounding full compliance with the Copyright and Related Act 2000 and the EU Copyright Directive will have a hugely beneficial effect on the lives of all our extremely talented creative workers. 

“More importantly, it will protect the investment of the most important stakeholder in our film and television industry, the public. Implementing these recommendations will ensure that we are investing in sustainable careers for all those young people who are beginning their training and looking forward to contributing to our valued creative reputation on the world stage.”

He added: “We fully support all the recommendations contained in the report. The recommended increase in funding for the industry must come hand in hand with full compliance with all legislation that protects the rights of film workers, cast and crew.”


Irish Equity calls for EU protections of intellectual property rights for artists in Ireland 

Irish Equity has called for the complete extension to Ireland of EU protections for intellectual property rights for performers in order to end practices which are denying these workers ongoing earnings from their work.

Irish Equity President, Gerry O’Brien, said: “At the recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Irish Equity, which took place on 2nd April, two motions were passed relating to copyright in the audio visual industry.

“The motions mandate the Equity executive to call on the Government to do two things. Firstly, to complete the transposition of EU Directive 2019/790 on Copyright in the Digital Single Market into Irish law. Secondly, the Government must include the Copyright Act and this EU Directive in the list of mandatory requirements for applications for the Section 481 tax credit, which seeks to incentivise film and TV production in Ireland, and for all public funding in the audio-visual industry.

“The purpose of the EU Directive is to address ‘the weaker contractual position when authors and performers grant a licence or transfer their rights’. Under the EU Directive, ‘buyout contracts’ are acknowledged as an exception rather than the rule, but for over 30 years Irish performers have been given little choice but to sign these contracts.

“This means Irish performers have not received their rightful residual payments for their work. It also means that there is a wealth of their intellectual property, that still has financial value, tied up in the back catalogues of producers and broadcasters. The EU Directive includes articles that will ensure that performers receive ongoing payments for the use of those works.

“The Irish Equity position on this issue has been supported by the International Federation of Actors (FIA) in a letter in which it states that the provisions of this Directive have not been taken seriously by several EU states, including Ireland.”

He added: “As part of the application for funding under Section 481, producers must sign an undertaking that they will comply with all relevant employment legislation but there is no mention of the Copyright Act. This Act is separate from employment law. It deals with the performers intellectual property rights and materially affects performers’ ability to create a sustainable career. We recommend that compliance with copyright legislation be a listed and mandatory requirement when applying for direct funding and for Section 481 support.”

The Irish Equity AGM also passed motions calling for the minimum rate for live theatre performance to be set at €600 per week and for a restructuring of the union’s theatre agreement to bring it up to date with the hybrid nature of the exploitation of live performance on digital platforms.

Irish Equity and MUI welcome grant awards through the Basic Income for the Arts Pilot Scheme

Irish Equity and the Musicians Union of Ireland (MUI) have welcomed the awarding of 2,000 grants for artists and creative arts workers through the new Basic Income for the Arts Pilot Scheme, which were announced today (Thursday, 8th September).

Irish Equity and MUI Organiser, Michelle Quinn, said: “Our members welcome the announcement by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and the Media, Catherine Martin, that 2,000 successful candidates have been chosen for the Basic Income for the Arts Pilot Scheme. We sincerely hope that it makes a real difference to the quality of life of the successful recipients.

“However, we are also mindful that the 6,200 people who were eligible for inclusion in the random draw for these grants, who were unsuccessful, must be disappointed. We will monitor the development of the scheme and will flag any issues that arise with the Department.”

She added: “We are mindful that the pilot scheme is a significant change to the way Ireland recognises and supports artists. It is our hope that it will be successful and that ultimately it will be developed in a manner that ensures all artists will receive financial support.”

President of Irish Equity, Gerry O’Brien, said: “Ireland could lead the way on a new model to support all people active in the sector. We would be fully supportive of such an initiative and we would urge the Minister to give favourable consideration to it. We also need to ensure that artists living with a disability do not lose any existing benefits as a result of their inclusion in the scheme or any future initiatives.”

Unions say artists basic income scheme a positive development but more clarity needed

Unions representing performance workers, SIPTU, Irish Equity and the MUI, have welcomed the announcement today (Tuesday, 5th April) of a Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme which will provide a security of income for three years for up to 2,000 participants. 

The scheme announced by Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, will provide for a weekly payment of €325 to successful applicants in order to support practicing artists and creative arts workers. 

[Read more…]

Irish Equity AGM 2022

Irish Equity backs call for collective bargaining legislation at SIPTU conference

Irish Equity has expressed its support for motions passed at the SIPTU Biennial Delegate Conference in Sligo which call for legislation to secure collective bargaining rights for workers in Ireland in line with those available in the rest of the EU.

Irish Equity President, Gerry O’Brien, said: “Ireland remains an outlier among western European countries when it comes to collective bargaining coverage. Nowhere is the impact of this more evident than in the heavily state subsidised audio visual industry in Ireland. This has undermined attempts to successfully engage with employers in this sector due to the dominant position that producers and broadcasters find themselves in relation to performers in the Republic. 

“This has resulted in many high budget co-productions shot in Ireland availing of taxpayer support through various Government and local grants, engaging indigenous performers on inferior terms and conditions to those of visiting performers.

“This has created an unacceptable inequity in how we value our talent compared to visiting performers, whose payment is also deemed part of the eligible spend in Ireland of a production. This means that taxpayers in Ireland are supporting productions where international performers are on superior terms and conditions to their colleagues based in Ireland. A collectively bargained agreement cannot allow for such inequity to exist.

“Performers are protected by the Copyright and Related Act Ireland 2000 which provides them with certain rights, including a right to equitable remuneration for the exploitation of their work. The value of this participation can only be achieved through good faith negotiations. This is what allows performers in film and television productions to receive what are called residual payments for the ongoing use of their recorded work. 

“The European Copyright Directive further protects the right of performers to residual payments and requires that all contracts allow them to participate in the financial success of a production in an appropriate, equitable and proportionate manner.”

He added: “Irish Equity is working with Equity UK (NI) in order to ensure performers, North and South, are valued equally. Both unions, working together, are committed to equality for all performers on the island of Ireland.”

Irish Equity and Equity UK join forces to call for equal treatment of Ireland-based performers

Members of Irish Equity and Equity (UK) have joined forces to call for equal treatment for performers working on international co-productions in Ireland. Currently, international production companies are applying lesser terms and conditions to Ireland-based performers. 

International companies making television series and films deny equal rights to local performers on production sets in Ireland even though many of these entities receive generous subsidies under the Section 481 Film Tax Credit. When working on the same film or TV production, UK performers do so on standard Equity UK union contracts that entitle them to receive payment for royalties, residuals and repeats, while their Irish colleagues are on non-union contracts that do not.

Many production companies in the Republic offer buy-outs to actors who then lose appropriate royalties and protection for their performances while their employers enjoy government tax breaks and licence fee revenues. 

The call from Irish Equity and Equity UK follows an historic first meeting of both unions. At the meeting, members of both unions insisted that film productions in Ireland must ensure equal and fair terms and conditions for all professional performers through collective bargaining and agreement with union representatives.

Union members also agreed to mobilise their colleague actors to stop unfair practices and ensure fair treatment as their audiences would expect. Both unions will now work together to ensure the value of Irish, UK and international talent and the contribution they make to the global film and TV industry are recognised, and that all performers are engaged on decent union contracts. 

Screen Ireland has confirmed that a record-breaking €500 million was spent on the screen industry in Ireland in 2021, surpassing the previous record in 2019 by 40%. Meanwhile, an objective of Northern Ireland Screen is for Northern Ireland to have the strongest screen industry outside of London in the UK and Ireland.

General Secretary at Equity, Paul Fleming, said: “We are very pleased to have, for the first time, brought together Irish Equity and Equity members in the UK and Northern Ireland to discuss a critical issue about film and TV production rights on the island of Ireland. We want to continue to work with Irish Equity and members of both Unions to showcase how important it is that the terms and conditions are equitable for those working in film and TV all over Ireland, to harmonise our expectations of fair treatment and ensure a good deal from producers.”

President of Irish Equity, Gerry O’Brien, said: “Both Unions have been compromised by the dominant position exercised by producers in imposing lesser terms and conditions in their agreements on Irish based performers in the Republic of Ireland. At the point of production, in both television series and films, the minimum terms and conditions for the engagement of performers can favour non-resident performers over local hire. Most crucially, the assignment of performers rights, which are protected in legislation, fall far below the international norm. It is these rights which produce ‘residual payments’ for performers.”

Calling all members of Irish Equity and Equity Northern Ireland!

We invite you to a meeting of Irish Equity and Equity NI to discuss supporting your rights when filming, no matter where you work on the island of Ireland.

At 2.00 p.m. on Tuesday, 8th March, via zoom, General Secretaries and Presidents of both Unions will welcome you to this critical meeting which is only open to members of either Union. You will need your membership number to register so please encourage your colleagues and friends to join the appropriate Union and then register!

Meet your representatives, understand the issues and protect yourselves in your workplace by attending this meeting of members to discuss together the importance of production companies using fair agreements when engaging performers.

Register now by visiting: The Zoom log in details will be emailed to registered attendees on the morning of 8th March.

Irish Equity and MUI call for increased support for workers and venues

Irish Equity and the Musicians Union of Ireland have called for an immediate increase in support from the Government for all workers and entertainment venues impacted by the tightening of Covid-19 restrictions. 

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Michelle Quinn, said: “The members of Irish Equity and the Musicians Union of Ireland fully appreciate that we as a country must act in a manner that protects the public health of all in our communities.

“They also fully appreciate that the further restrictions placed on the entertainment sector will have a significant negative impact on what was a tentative recovery for their industries. As a consequence they are calling upon the Government to act immediately to put in place measures that will assist workers in the sector whose livelihoods are once again under dire threat.”

She added: “The Government must move to ensure full support is available immediately to all those who work in the sector and all performance venues including the smallest facilities.”

Equity and MUI seek further financial aid for performers

Following the introduction of further Covid-19 restrictions, Irish Equity and the Musicians’ Union of Ireland (MUI) have welcomed the return of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the continuing support available through the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS). 

“Additional Covid-19 restrictions have already damaged the live arts and entertainment sector due to the reduced capacity of theatres and performance venues and, as a consequence, artists, performers, technicians, creative and support staff will continue to struggle financially,” SIPTU Organiser, Michelle Quinn said.  

“The sector is reeling from the restrictions imposed as the result of the pandemic over the last two years. Now, additional financial supports are required and there must be easy access for those in need of assistance. We are calling on the Arts Minister, Catherine Martin, to lower the eligibility limits in the Live Performance Support Scheme (seasonal musical, theatre and pantomime) to support productions, including those in smaller, local and regional venues. 

“We acknowledge the previous supports made available to the sector but these have not been adequate or proportionate to the devastation of livelihoods inflicted by successive lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic.”