Irish dancing body hires consultancy firm for review in wake of ‘feis-fixing’ scandal

An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha hired management consultants Sia Partners to audit Irish dancing competition rules and disciplinary processes

Irish dancing’s oldest and largest governing body has hired a global consultancy firm to review its adjudication rules and structures in the aftermath of the competition-fixing scandal.

An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha (CLRG) said it had appointed Sia Partners, the French-headquartered consultancy firm with offices in Dublin, to complete a review of the commission’s organisational processes and structures along with a strategic audit of its competition rules.

The consultants will look at CLRG’s constitution, entire organisational structure, adjudication and competition rules and regulations, and disciplinary procedures and practices.

The review will begin immediately with the goal of completing it by early July, CLRG said.


It sought the external review after allegations of “feis-fixing” emerged following the leaking of text messages between Irish dancing teachers and adjudicators appearing to show them trying to secure higher scores for their students competing in the 2019 All Ireland Championships.

The text messages showed teachers sharing details of the competition age group and competition numbers for their students and asking the judges to look favourably on them.

The controversy has led to disciplinary hearings being taken against 44 teachers and adjudicators following an investigation by retired appeals court judge, Mr Justice Michael Peart.

The review is one of a number of measures being taken by CLRG to address the controversy.

The commission introduced changes aimed at ensuring fair competition at last month’s All Ireland Championships, including preventing judges from bringing mobile phones to the adjudicating tables and official adjudication documents being delivered in sealed envelopes.

The review by Sia Partners will seek the opinions of CLRG teachers who, over the coming weeks, will be asked to participate in surveys, virtual focus groups and face-to-face meetings.

The consultancy firm will also attend a number of forthcoming competitions, CLRG said.

“There is an overwhelming mandate from our members and teachers for change and the findings from this audit will inform the potential future direction of CLRG,” the commission said.

“CLRG remains fully committed to deliver effective transformation and real change to the organisation.”

Sia Partners said the review would be “thorough, holistic and independent” and give CLRG registrants “an opportunity to share their voice and experience of the organisation.”

One of the 44 individuals facing disciplinary hearings, Amanda Hennigan, a CLRG dance teacher who runs a school in the UK, secured a High Court injunction last month halting her suspension, with the judge finding she was not afforded natural justice over her suspension.

The judge permitted the disciplinary hearing to proceed against her but urged CRLG to proceed with the hearing as soon as possible to avoid prejudicing Ms Hennigan.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent