There remains some confusion in Ireland concerning the Government announcement last week of a $188m (Euros 145m) contribution to the film industry under National Development Plan (NDP) spending for 2007-2013.

In an election year, sceptics might conclude that the sum only amounts to what the Irish Film Board is likely to receive anyway over the seven years in question and would not therefore be 'new' money for the industry.

The Film Board's budget allocation this year is $25.4m (Euros 19.659m), $22m (Euros 17m) capital and $3.4m (Euros 2.659m) for administration. The capital is used for training, development and production funding.

Accumulating the total annual budget, and allowing for inflation, would approximate the total set out for film in the NDP spending announcement.

However, while a spokesperson for the Film Board said it was the Board's understanding at this stage that the $188 (Euros 145m) was for capital and administration purposes, a spokesperson for the Department of Arts, Sport & Tourism said the funding was for capital purposes only. That would allow an excess in the funding, on the Film Board's current capital provision, of approximately $25.8m (Euros 20m).

NDP spending is generally intended to provide for infrastructural developement and there is some off the record speculation that the country's pressing need for a larger, more up to date studio facility is being actively considered by the Government.

There is already a public sector stake in Ardmore Studios which has enormous real estate potential. A form of Public Private Partnership (as is being used to fund a new national theatre) could be utilised as the development vehicle for a new film studio, if the public stake in Ardmore were put with additional capital funding.

Meantime, the official line is that, 'The Department is conducting a review of the development of the film sector with a view to drawing up measures that will ensure the availability and maintenance of the critical infrastructure required to ensure the continued viability of an Irish film industry for indigenous and incoming filmmakers.'