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Minister Humphreys thanks "Team Ireland" for support of Star Wars filming

Heather Humphreys, TD, Minster for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht today acknowledged the wonderful reception and support the Star Wars production received from the people of Kerry and, in particular, in the village of Portmagee and the surrounding areas. She thanked all the State agencies which supported the two days of filming activity on Sceilg Mhichíl (Skellig Michael). She also thanked JJ Abrams and his team for choosing Ireland as one of the international locations for the film production.

Speaking today Minister Humphreys said "The combined effort of the local community, the State agencies and the international film world made this a truly special experience for all. This was a Team Ireland effort and I believe it showcased Ireland’s wonderful arts, heritage and cultural assets, as well as our technical capabilities in the film production sector. It also provided an unparalleled employment opportunity for over 70 Irish people to work on perhaps one of the world's most successful and internationally recognised film franchises. Securing a prestigious project of this nature further enhances our reputation as a location of choice for international feature films.

Minister Humphreys added "I had the privilege this week of seeing for myself the work underway on Sceilg Mhichíl and experienced first-hand the significant ecological and environmental safeguards put in place jointly with the OPW, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board, my Department and the production company to ensure that this wonderful UNESCO World Heritage site and its outstanding birdlife were fully protected during the filming activity. Specialist staff from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Monuments Service as well as OPW experts were on site throughout the filming and are satisfied that there were no negative impacts".

Sceilg Mhichíl is protected under the EU Birds Directive as a Special Protection Area and, as the Minister responsible for nature protection; Minister Humphreys explained that she would not agree to a project that would endanger the bird populations or archaeology on the island. “Through collaborative engagement with the film company we managed to tailor the project to ensure that filming could take place without adverse impacts on the bird population”, said Minister Humphreys. She added that with appropriate management measures, effective nature and heritage protection can go hand in hand with economic activity.

Minister Humphreys wished also to convey her congratulations to Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board which worked over an extended period to ensure that this project came to Ireland and assisted the producers with the facilities and services they needed across all aspects of the production in Ireland.

She also acknowledged the important work of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the National Monuments Service, the Office of Public Works, the Navy, An Garda Síochána, the Coastguard, Tourism Ireland,the Irish Aviation Authority and the many Government Departments involved in making this project a reality.