Minister Madigan keeps hands warm while Section 481 controversy blazes – Peadar Tóibín TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Arts, Deputy Peadar Tóibín, today quizzed Minister Madigan on what steps her Department has made with advancing an All-Party Oireachtas Committee Culture report which contained 11 key recommendations, including reform of Section 481 and the precarious nature of work in the industry.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Deputy Tóibín, who is chairperson of the Oireachtas Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht which issued the report said:
“My Committee stated clearly that Section 481 is a key and central component within the Irish Film Industry.
"This fact is accepted by the vast majority of the industry’s stakeholders. Section 481 will remain central in the industry into the future.
“However this does not mean that Section 481 is without fault and is not in need of reform. Mel Gibson’s attorneys are accusing the producer of 'The Professor and the Madman' of seeking to swindle Ireland’s tax authorities.
“Allegations have been made that expenses have been inflated on the film in order to achieve in a larger tax rebate from the Irish government.
"This is a very serious allegation because if it’s true it means that the people of Ireland have been swindled and Section 481 is not rigid enough to protect the interests of the tax payer.
“Our report also noted that €73 million is the total 481 tax relief received by to the 12 largest production companies. This is a large concentration of the total in the hands of a few companies.
“It was also communicated that the structure of the Relief was actually militating against jobs coming to Ireland.
"The committee called for an international comparative study to be constituted to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the Section 481 tax credit.
“Minister, allegations have also been made over the last number of years that certain companies seek to crew as many trainees as possible on jobs in order to cut back on crew costs.
"What reforms have happened in the training of trainees and to prevent the exploitation of workers in this regard?
“There is also a concern Minister, among certain workers around the precarious nature of some jobs in the sector.
"Some workers are seriously aggrieved at the fact that if they raise reasonable concerns they are not reemployed and are effectively blackballed.
"The Committee recommended that the government should seek to make working arrangements in the sector more secure.
"Given the level of public funding and tax relief that fuels the Film Industry there should be zero tolerance of any worker exploitation.
“Minister this is a live situation. It is not something to be ignored. There are protests in the sector on some of these issues. Is it not time the Minister became properly briefed on it and stopped keeping her hands warm.”