Sheamus Smith retired as the longest-serving Film Censor in the history of the State in 2003.During his 17-year term, that office was transformed; ‘censorship’ was replaced by ‘film classification’.
New certificates were introduced and the practice of banning and cutting films ended. Consumer advice became the main objective. Shortly after his retirement, the campaign, which Sheamus had initiated soon after his appointment and maintained for 15 years, was successful. The office became that of Film and Video Classification.
Sheamus started his career as a photojournalist with the now defunct Evening Press and later moved to Canada where he studied film and television at the University of British Columbia. Afterwards he worked in Hollywood for Disney Studios. He returned to Ireland and joined the newly formed Teilifís Éireann before that organisation went on air. As a cinematographer, producer/director and editor of current affairs television, Sheamus was responsible for a number of award winning programmes.
Sheamus was appointed Managing Director of Ardmore Film Studios in 1975. He was successful in attracting major international film productions to Ireland and was instrumental in persuading the Irish government to establish the Irish Film Board and create incentives for filmmaking in Ireland.
After Ardmore Studios, Sheamus produced and directed the international television series, Peter Ustinov’s People with his close friend Sir Peter Ustinov. The first programme in that series was dramatically interrupted when Sheamus witnessed the assassination of Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi as he walked towards her, in her private garden in Delhi in 1984.
A Council Member of the Irish Film Institute, Sheamus is a Lifetime Member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a member of the Irish Film and Television Academy. At the 2014 AIB Photojournalism Awards, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, presented Sheamus with Honorary Membership of the Press Photographers Association of Ireland.
Off Screen-A Memoir by Sheamus Smith was published by Gill & Macmillan in 2007.
(Appointed to the Board December 2003.)