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Irish Dancing Scandal: A Damage To The Reputation Of Critical Irish Art

One of the Irish dancing’s major bodies Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha (CLRG) has suspended 44 Individuals from judging competitions and full disciplinary hearings are to be held to investigate the allegations that they were involved in cheating and competition fixing reported the RTE.


These individuals have also been suspended from judging competitions while the process is ongoing. The suspension follows the allegations made earlier this year where CLRG received complaints of several grievous breaches of its Code of Conduct, with supporting documentation.


The scandal came to light after some emails containing allegations and evidence were submitted to CLRG officials in July this year. The scandal involves some of the most successful and well-regarded Irish dance teachers and schools who have been accused of fixing competitions for their own students. Screenshots of several text conversations have been submitted to CLRG as evidence of these violations. In some separate screenshots which have not been shared with CLRG yet, a dance teacher and competition judge appeared to be exchanging sexual favours for higher scores.


In a statement on the dancing body’s website, they said that due to the “potential extent” of the allegations, they hired a former judge of the Court of Appeal “to oversee and supervise the immediate investigation into these matters. And that the judge will “have full and open access to the resources and records of CLRG.”


In another statement, they said, “An Coimisiún will ensure that the disciplinary process is robust so that those found to have engaged in misconduct are subject to the full impact of that process.”


Although, the scandal has shocked many involved in the Irish dancing community around the world, the development of these investigations has been welcomed by others. Sorcha Ní Chéide, an Irish dancing teacher based in Galway, told RTE, "I was definitely shocked at the news, 44 people being investigated does seem like a lot of people.”


Furthermore, questions were raised in the Irish Parliament to the Minister for Culture Catherine Martin, and in response, she stated that she had written to the Irish Dance Organisation Comisiún na Rincí Gaelacha to seek assurances that it is taking timely and transparent steps to restore confidence in its competitions, following recent allegations of competition fixing.


Later a spokesperson for the Minister welcomed the development and suspension of 44 individuals, noting the importance of restoring public confidence in the fairness of Irish dancing competitions which he said are a key expression of Irish identity.


Every year, Irish dancing is the first encounter hundreds of thousands of kids worldwide have with Irish culture. It is also the prime contact for millions of Irish Americans with their heritage and a critical part of the reputation of Ireland. This scandal has put the art in great jeopardy and will have long-term consequences. In addition, it will have a harsh impact on young children who are just starting out with dreams of becoming the next star in the arena.


Following these allegations, The BBC has stopped the production of a documentary on Irish dancing. The five-part series called Point Perfect was pulled by the broadcaster during early production. The BBC Spokesperson said, “Given this wider context the BBC is unable to proceed with the series as planned.”


Those who are involved in such kinds of practices need to understand that art and competitions should be kept fair and healthy in order to maintain the faith of every individual involved in it. These competitions are a place for sharing culture and learning arts not a place for making money.



Image Courtesy - BBC 

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