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Jig is up

International Irish dancing body investigating claims of fixed contests

A former judge of the Court of Appeal has been appointed to oversee the investigation.

LAST UPDATE | Oct 6th 2022, 1:03 PM

AN INTERNATIONAL IRISH dancing organisation is investigating claims of “grievous” conduct breaches involving the fixing of competitions.

An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha (CLRG), which oversees major events in Ireland and around the world, has appointed a former judge of the Court of Appeal to oversee the investigation.

It has been reported that screenshots were sent to the CLRG that show text conversations involving 12 Irish dancing teachers asking for or offering to fix competitions

The Irish Independent also reports today that it has seen additional screenshots appearing to implicate a further six teachers.

The CLRG said it views such breaches as gross misconduct and that it would use its official Disciplinary Procedures to respond to any members found to have engaged in the alleged behaviour.

The Disciplinary Procedures state that the CLRG considers any “misconduct serious enough to undermine any future working relationship” between the body and the individual because of a breakdown in trust as amounting to “gross misconduct”. 

Gross misconduct can lead to “summary expulsion without any prior warnings”. 

In a statement, the CLRG said that its ethics committee received allegations in July 2022 of several grievous breaches of our Code of Conduct, along with supporting documentation.

“Such unethical behaviour cannot and will not be tolerated by this organisation,” the CLRG said.

“Due to the potential extent of such allegations – and to ensure fairness, transparency and thoroughness – the services of an independent former judge of the Court of Appeal have been engaged to oversee and supervise the immediate investigation into these matters.”

The body said the judge will have “full and open access” to its resources and records.

“The process will no doubt be difficult and arduous but this grossly unethical behaviour must be eliminated from our competitions, dance schools and governing organisations,” it said.

It said that any registered member found to be engaged in such practices would be subject to “due and full process” under the Disciplinary Procedures.

“This process has already started and the principles of natural justice apply.

“To ensure the integrity of the process and until it is complete, no further comments will be made.”

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said that people need to have confidence in the CLRG and she awaited any report.

“I think people need to have confidence in any type of events or competitions or organizations, be it children or younger people or older people that are involved,” said McEntee.

“A judge has been appointed to do a report. So I’ll await the report and I’m sure whatever comes out of that there will be actions taken afterwards.”

Conradh na Gaeilge founded the CLRG in the 1930s to promote Irish dancing and the body now has members across the world.

It organises Ireland’s regional and national championships as well as the Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne, the World Irish Dancing Championships.

The world championships were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic but returned this year in April, where more than 3,500 dancers competed in Belfast.

The CLRG organises qualifying competitions in other countries across the world, including the US, UK and Australia.

Additional reporting by Tadgh McNally