Stars arrive in Dublin for Iftas

Stars gather on red carpet ahead of annual Irish television and film industry awards

Actor Steve Coogan with Philomena Lee, at the 11th annual Irish Film & Television Awards (Ifta) at the Double Tree by Hilton Dublin Hotel tonight. Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Actor Steve Coogan with Philomena Lee, at the 11th annual Irish Film & Television Awards (Ifta) at the Double Tree by Hilton Dublin Hotel tonight. Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times


The stars of the Irish television and film industry have arrived for their annual award ceremony tonight in Dublin.

The Irish Film and Television Awards (Iftas) used to coincide with its British equivalent, the Baftas, but have since been moved to a later date.

Fifty Shades of Gray lead man Jamie Dornan sho arrived with his wife Amelia, Michael Fassbender, Colin Farrell, the casts of the successful movie The Stag and the RTÉ drama Love/Hate, which is once again up for a slew of awards, were among those who turned up this evening at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel formerly known as the Burlington Hotel.

The guest of honour is President Michael D Higgins who will be given a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to Irish film particularly when he was Minister for the Arts 20 years and reconstituted the film board. He arrived with his wife Sabina.

President Higgins is expected to praise the audiovisual industry for their “extraordinary creativity to survive during harder times”.

Actress Fionnuala Flanagan, who returned from her home in Los Angeles for the event, said she was “thrilled” that her friend President Higgins, who presented her with a lifetime achievement award two years ago, was getting his own award.

“He is a marvellous man for Ireland. This award is not before its time given what he has done for Ireland. His expressions of support for human rights in the world, the plight of the poor and economic inequality, he has spoken out about that and well. That is to his credit and we should be glad to have him as our President.”

Despite appearing at a veritable carousel of awards including the Oscars and the Baftas, Philomena Lee, the woman who inspired the film Philomena, said the IFTAs were the ones that meant the most to her.

Ms Lee, who was forced to give up her son Anthony for adoption in 1952, arrived at the awards with her daughter Jayne and the star and co-writer of the film Steve Coogan.

“This is the most special. I love being home in my country. The others were great, don’t get me wrong, but we never even thought we were going to get invited to this. We are so lucky. We’re so proud to be back to Ireland,” she said.

Ms Lee said she finds it hard to believe the reaction to the film Philomena on both sides of the Atlantic. Her daughter said the film had inspired a phenomenon known as the “Philomena effect” where mothers and their children have had the courage to reconnect with each other.

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