What do you call an Irish man with talent? British! 

Well, you’d be forgiven for thinking so when you read the list of nominees for the 30 annual London Film Critic’s Circle Awards. Irish actors Michael Fassbender, Saoirse Ronan and Anne Marie Duff may want to check their passports because this year they’re in the running – as Brits! 

For the category of Best British Actor in a Supporting Role Irish actor Michael Fassbender has been nominated for his role in Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank.” The film tells the story of a volatile 15-year-old girl whose world is turned upside down when her mother brings home Connor a mysterious stranger played by Fassbender. 

Irish actress Anne-Marie Duff is also in the running for Best British Actress in a Supporting Role for her turn in Sam Taylor Wood’s “Nowhere Boy,” in which she plays Julia, John Lennon’s estranged mother. 

And finally, 15 year-old Irish actress Saoirse Ronan (her name, which is the Irish word for freedom, ought to have been their first clue) is a candidate for the Young British Performer of the Year! 

Ronan has received the nod for her immensely assured performance in Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones.” In the film Ronan plays Susie Salmon, a young girl who watches her family from the afterlife following her murder. 

With so much Irish talent in competition the Critic’s Circle had to say something about the issue. Addressing the eligibility of Irish actors in the various categories, a statement on their website says: 

“British and Irish film makers are eligible for most, if not all, of our awards. The word British in the title of some of our awards is simply to distinguish them from the general best actor/director/film awards. Irish citizens are eligible for these awards but many Irish actors and directors work on what are technically British films and their work deserves recognition. There is no intention to suggest that Irish talent is British should an Irish citizen be nominated in the “British” categories and all Irish nominees know this. It simply recognizes the complex nature of film making, a collaborative affair often crossing national boundaries and anyone who wishes to raise the matter should do so with Jason Solomon’s, current chair of the Awards Committee.” 

So they admit Irish people are not technically British until they work on a British film or give a performance worthy of an award? After all the awards keep their British title no matter who wins them. 

All three of these Irish actors are serious contenders to win this award season, so the acceptance speeches on the night may make for dramatic viewing . Don’t say they weren’t warned. 

The awards ceremony will take place on Thursday, Feb. 18 in London.