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Irish dancing: All cases of alleged competition fixing dropped by governing body

The CLRG says it is unable to identify a suitable witness to provide evidence against the teachers and adjudicators

The world’s largest and oldest governing body for Irish dancing has dropped disciplinary proceedings against all teachers and adjudicators who were accused of alleged competition-fixing and yet to have their cases heard.

In July 2022 a dossier purportedly showing evidence of extensive competition fixing was handed in to An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha (CLRG). The allegations were related to a competition taking place in 2019 but were submitted to the body only in 2022 and later leaked online.

Contained within the dossier were screenshots of text messages appearing to show efforts by dancing instructors to secure high scores for their students from fellow teachers. Originally 12 teachers were implicated in the controversy, but the number later rose to 44.

The CLRG pledged to conduct disciplinary proceedings into the teachers about whom allegations were made.


Speaking previously in an interview with The Irish Times, Sandra Connick, chairwoman of CLRG, said: “All 44 will have their day in court. The commission is adamant that we’re going to hear each and every one of these cases – and the respondents have the right to be heard.”

An independent panel was established to consider allegations, with a former senior garda, retired county registrars and practising barristers among those selected for the panel.

The proceedings began in August of last year and it was envisaged all 44 would be completed by the middle of this year. It is understood only nine cases have concluded so far.

However, CLRG has confirmed it will not be pursuing further disciplinary action “against individuals accused of historical wrongdoing at Irish dancing competitions stemming from complaints received in 2022”.

The Irish Times understands that lawyers representing CLRG contacted a number of the teachers implicated in the controversy on Tuesday to withdraw complaints against them.

The affected teachers were told the CLRG encountered difficulty in identifying a suitable witness to provide a witness statement and to provide oral evidence during the disciplinary hearings. The witness that the body used for previous hearings was no longer available for this purpose, they were told.

As a result, Coiste Faire, the body’s ethics committee, believed there was no reasonable prospect of a finding being made against any of the individuals. In light of this, the CLRG told the affected individuals it would no longer proceed with the matter, and it would be formally withdrawing its complaint.

In response to questions on Wednesday, a spokesman for the CLRG said the individuals were being contacted concerning the decision to stop disciplinary proceedings.

“Ensuring fair competition and effective adjudication at CLRG competitions has always been a key priority. Enhanced competition and adjudication procedures were introduced in advance of the 2023 All Ireland Championships, that continue to be strictly adhered to and enforced at all CLRG competitions,” the spokesman said.

“The procedure for selecting adjudicators for competitions has also been strengthened, with all registered 2,300 CLRG teachers and members now having a vote in the process.”

He added: “The organisation is undergoing a modernisation and transformation process, guided by the recommendations of an independent strategic review that took place last year. A new managing director has been appointed, with further changes expected in the near future, including the development of a new, robust disciplinary code of practice.”

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times