Irish actors Michael Fassbender and Kenneth Branagh swept the major awards at the British Independent Film Awards on Sunday.

Fassbender received the Best Actor award for his role as a sex addict in Steve McQueen's movie 'Shame', and Belfast born Kenneth Branagh won the Variety Award for lifetime achievement.

Fassbender, who hails from Killarney, paid tribute to director Steve McQueen who also worked with him on his breakthrough role as Bobby Sands in 'hunger."

"I love the man. He is great.

"We seem to have a pretty good shorthand when we're on set.

"The passion he arouses in all members of the crew, on camera and behind it, that is the really inspiring thing to be around."

Branagh said: "It is very exciting and thrilling.

"It is very nice to have a prize that has the words 'variety' and 'independence' attached to it because it is what I like to pursue in my work and to be in an atmosphere that people say is the Christmas party for the film industry."

He said he loved his time with the Harry Potter series.

"I've just done a film, My Week With Marilyn, with Emma Watson, who was this size when I first worked with her, and to see her maturing, and Dan [Daniel Radcliffe] and everyone, that's exacting."