Screen Ireland appoints Désirée Finnegan as new chief executive

Marketing and publicity expert will lead Irish film, television and animation body

Screen Ireland, the organisation previously known as the Irish Film Board, has appointed Désirée Finnegan as its next chief executive.

She will replace James Hickey, who is stepping down in August.

Originally from Dublin, Ms Finnegan was most recently a Warner Bros Pictures executive, serving as its senior vice president of theatrical marketing and publicity for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

In this role, she led the regional marketing operations, working with local territory offices and a London-based team to oversee the strategy for movie release campaigns across the region.


She was previously based at the studio’s headquarters in Burbank, California and held the position of senior vice president of international publicity.

Since joining Warner Bros in 2004, the film campaigns she has worked on include Dunkirk, Ready Player One, The Lego Movie, the Dark Knight trilogy and the Harry Potter franchise.

She has also worked on successful Golden Globe and Bafta award-winning campaigns for acclaimed films such as The Departed, Inception, Gravity and Argo.

Ms Finnegan said she was “delighted to be returning home” to take up the post “and for the opportunity to continue building on the critical and commercial success of the Irish film, television and animation industry”.

The Irish screen industries are estimated to contribute some €692 million to the Irish economy, while supporting the equivalent of 12,000 full-time jobs. In 2019, it will receive capital funding of €16.2 million, while the Government has indicated it will increase this budget over the next decade.

‘Creative vision’

“My passion for supporting great storytellers and those with creative vision has played an important role throughout my career and I am sincerely looking forward to working with the incredible wealth of Irish creative talent, both in front of and behind the camera,” Ms Finnegan said.

Before her career at Warner Bros, she worked in New York for Enterprise Ireland. She holds a business studies degree from Trinity College Dublin and a Masters in strategic management.

Annie Doona, the chairwoman of Screen Ireland / Fís Éireann, said Ms Finnegan brought "a wealth and depth of experience" to the role.

“She is an experienced leader who brings huge energy to her work and has a strong commitment to the screen industries,” she said.

“Her wide knowledge of the international film industry will benefit the Irish industry and we are delighted to welcome her back to Ireland to lead the agency into the next phase of growth.”

Dr Doona thanked Mr Hickey for his hard work and dedication to the organisation over the last eight years.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics