Irish Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy confirmed in his Budget Speech today (Nov 3) that the film Section 481 tax incentive will be extended to the end of 2008 and that the cap on total investment in any one film will be increased from Euros 10.48m to Euros15m from 2005.

The news is a huge relief for the Irish industry, which credits the tax incentive with helping encourage films such as King Arthur, Tristan And Isolde, Asylum and Laws Of Attraction to shoot in the country. Section 481 was due to be terminated at the end of 2004.

McCreevy was met noises of widespread approval from both sides of the Dail, Ireland's parliament, when he announced the extension.

Screen Producers Ireland (SPI), which had lobbied hard for retention and a raising of the cap on investment, stated that the Budget Speech "would have a positive impact on the industry, dispel the uncertainty that had prevailed and allow for productions both domestic and international to now re-consider Ireland as one of the six preferred film locations in the world."

According to Andrew Lowe of SPI, "Minister McCreevy has been progressive in his decision to view the film tax incentive in a different category to other incentives being removed. He noted that this approach would send an important message internationally that the Irish Government and Ireland is 'film friendly' and congratulated the Minister of Arts, Sport and Tourism, Mr. John O'Donoghue for his key role in securing this decision and his consistent endorsement of the industry recommendations during the lead-in to Budget 2004."

"We very much welcome today's decision and look forward to working closely with the Department of Arts, Tourism and Sport, the Department of Finance and the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment to look at measures to consolidate the industry's success and assist its continued growth.

"It had been widely acknowledged by independent parties as well as the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance that Section 481 has provided a return to the exchequer on its investment," said Mr. Lowe.

Ossie Kilkenny, chairman of the Irish Film Board, said: "The Irish Film Board joins the industry in welcoming this affirmation of the government commitment to the growth of the Irish film industry and we applaud the efforts of Minister O'Donoghue. It is all the more welcome in the year when the investment by the government is bring its rewards with an unprecedented output of successful films made in Ireland. The announcement will help to maintain confidence and promote Ireland as a location for filmmaking.

Tommy McCabe, Director of the Audiovisual Federation of business lobby group IBEC, said: "The decision has vindicated the industry's arguments. The Audiovisual Federation wishes to fully acknowledge the commitment that both Mr John O'Donoghue, Minister of Arts Sport and Tourism, and Mr Charlie McCreevy, Minister for Finance, has given to the long term development of the sector through today's budget announcement."