Veteran RTÉ broadcaster and public relations executive B ill O'Herlihy has been appointed as the chairman designate of the Irish Film Board.
Mr O'Herlihy (74), who will perform his duties without payment if his appointment is confirmed, will have to go in front of the Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht first.
In a statement, the Cork-born broadcaster said he had been “immersed in television for all my adult life and I’m looking forward to using my hands-on experience to help the sector in the years ahead.”
He declined to comment further until after his appearance in front of the Oireachtas committee.
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan said Mr O'Herlihy would prove to be an "excellent chairman" of the board and has been tasked with increasing indigenous audiences for Irish film.
Mr O’Herlihy had been one of former Fine Gael Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald’s media “handlers” in the 1980s, but Mr Deenihan stressed that he had no involvement in politics in recent decades.
“He was never an adviser in my time for the last 30 years. I’ve never seen Bill at any Fine Gael function. I have never met Bill in any other context other than sport and television.”
He said Mr O’Herlihy had demonstrated through his public relations firm O’Herlihy Communications that he had the “marketing skills” to promote Irish film and television.
“The previous film board were embarking on a major marketing campaign for the promotion of film in this country to increase audiences,” the minister said.
“Bill has been very successful in marketing his own company and he has considerable experience on television for a very long time.”
The new seven member board consists of the actress Kate O'Toole, the daughter of Peter O'Toole, documentary filmmaker Maurice Sweeney, Dr Annie Doona, the President of Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) where the National Film School is located, Jam Media chief executive John Rice, cinematographer Seamus Deasy and producer Katie Holly the managing director of Bl!inder (sic) Films.
Mr Deenihan said many of those appointed were young and would bring “new energy” to the film industry.