The Irish artistic world has been galvanised by proposals to scrap the country's long-treasured tax breaks for artists, warning that such a move would spark a crisis.
A committee of the Irish parliament this week heard pleas for its continuation, its defenders arguing that its abolition would be disastrous for the thriving Irish arts scene.
The Irish Republic has long been intensely proud of the measure, dating back to the 1960s, that exempts from tax income by artists, writers, composers and sculptors from the sale of their works. It is said to have helped keep financially afloat struggling artists who might otherwise have been lost to the arts, while at the same time attracting creative people to the country.
The Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild, putting the case for continuing subsidy, said: 'Cultural expressions, including the arts, are the visible evidence of the soul of a society.
'Although Ireland is a small state it has a very strong identity as a society deeply committed to all forms of artistic expression " particularly in the literary arts, including those for film, television and the theatre.
'We are seen as a people who put a real value on the intangible storehouse of the imagination.'
The country has changed immensely and become much more prosperous, so that in today's cash-rich Ireland some artists still languish in garrets but others lounge in penthouses.
This goes particularly for the booming music business with the emergence of international Irish superstars such as Bono and his band U2, the Corrs, Van Morrison and others who have all benefited from tax breaks.
A left-wing politician has referred scathingly to 'the continuing scandal of millionaires and billionaires who are no doubt jetting off to their luxury hideaways in Bermuda, Monaco and other places this weekend'.
Many others who would not be classed as being among the mega- rich have moved to Ireland. They include Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, the BBC's John Simpson and Booker Prize winner DBC Pierre.
Some artistic immigrants have moved to Ireland for the financial benefits, while others came for other reasons and regard the tax break as a welcome bonus.
The scheme was the brainchild of former prime minister Charles Haughey. Although he is now regarded as corrupt and disgraced, this part of his legacy has always been regarded as a lasting success.
The exemption is one of a number of tax breaks that are now under review by the Irish government, and a decision on the issue may be made later this year. Already there is talk of a cap being placed on the exemption to curtail its benefits to the very well-off, but the political feat will be to put it in place …