THE prestigious global body that governs Irish dancing has been rocked by allegations of competition fixing and cheating.
An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha (CLRG) is dealing with its largest ever alleged cheating scandal, which has seen some of the most successful and well regarded Irish dance teachers and schools accused of fixing competitions for their own students.
The CLRG, the largest and oldest Irish dancing body in the world, has now announced that it had appointed a former Court of Appeal judge to oversee an investigation into the cheating allegations.
It is understood that screenshots of text conversations showing 12 Irish dance teachers either asking for, or offering to, fix competitions were handed over to the CLRG in July.
Separately the Irish Independent has seen more screenshots, which have not yet been shared with the CLRG, which appear to implicate at least another six teachers.
The dancing teachers, some based on the island of Ireland, were both asking for and offering to fix feiseanna.
In one case, a dance teacher and a competition judge appeared to be exchanging sexual favours for higher scores.
The CLRG said that its ethics committee had “received allegations, with supporting documentation, of several grievous breaches of our Code of Conduct.”
“Such unethical behaviour cannot and will not be tolerated by this organisation,” it said.
The CLRG said that due to the “potential extent” of the allegations, it had hired a former Court of Appeal judge “to oversee and supervise the immediate investigation into these matters. They will have full and open access to the resources and records of CLRG”.
It added: “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..
“An Coimisiún regards such breaches to be Gross Misconduct. Any registered member found to be engaged in such practices will be subject to due and full process under our published 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.”
Irish dance teachers adjudicate dance competitions, from feiseanna to major events like the All Irelands and the Worlds.
It is understood that one of the dance teachers alleged to have been involved had been previously accused of interfering with scores at competitions.
The CLRG is regarded internationally as the guardian of Irish dancing.
In response to a number of queries from the Irish Independent, it said it was “regrettable the matter has been aired in public now lest it compromises CLRGs own investigations into the matter”.
It said: “We are aware of allegations against a number of members circulating on social media. Allegations without evidence are simply that – allegations..
“All complaints to Coiste Faire are treated on a confidential basis pending investigation and possible disciplinary action. It is unfortunate that somebody has chosen to break that confidentiality which may deter complaints in relation to these or future allegations of wrongdoing.”
There is no mention in the texts of money being exchanged.
Current and former Irish dancing teachers and competitors, who spoke to the Irish Independent on the condition of anonymity, said that a school with a reputation for success can generate more in fees.
The Irish Independent also attempted to contact the 18 dance teachers identified in the screenshots. One dance teacher responded and claimed that this newspaper was “definitely mistaken.”
After the Irish Independent sent back screenshots of a conversation showing the same teacher discussing feis fixing for their students, the teacher stopped responding.