There is a lack of trust within the governing body for Irish dancing, especially when it comes to how competitions are run, with “unwanted behaviours” from some damaging the culture of the organisation, a report has found.
The independent report, seen by The Irish Times, was commissioned in the wake of controversy over alleged competition-fixing that rocked the Irish dancing world.
The report found there was an “overall lack of trust” within An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha (CLRG), the oldest and largest governing body for competitive Irish dancing.
The report said the organisation’s complaint process was “not trusted”, while its disciplinary process was not fit for purpose. Decision making in the governing body lacked transparency and its structure was “complex” and difficult to navigate, it said.
Management consultancy Sia Partners was brought in to conduct the review this year.
Allegations of “feis-fixing” between Irish dancing teachers and competition adjudicators emerged last year and saw 44 individuals face disciplinary proceedings, which are ongoing.
The controversy related to claims that Irish dancing instructors had attempted to secure higher scores for their students in competitions.
The allegations included one case where text messages between two male teachers showed sexual favours were offered in return for high scores.
A report from the consultants summarising their findings said those within Irish dancing had concerns about the “variation” in how rules were applied between regions and schools, especially when it came to competitions.
It said CLRG did not have a “clear vision” or strategy for the future, with a sense from those involved that it needed to become more “dancer centric”.
The report, completed last month, said “unwanted behaviours” by some were “negatively impacting” the culture of the governing organisation.
There was a clear divide between full-time and non-full-time dancing teachers, it said.
It said that while in the past the voluntary nature of CLRG had been a source of strength, the organisation’s continued growth had “strained” its current numbers of staff.
The consultants recommended the organisation hire a professional chief executive officer, or chief operations officer to help run the governing body.
There should be a stronger code of conduct, as well as a focus on how to change “elements of the culture that no longer serve the organisation”, it said.
The organisation’s internal body of 111 elected members representing dance teachers from different regions, known as the General Membership, should be overhauled, it recommended.
The report recommended the number of elected members was unwieldy and should be cut by at least 40 per cent.
In response to the report, a CLRG spokesman said its members had been briefed on the findings this week.
An extraordinary general meeting (EGM) would be held at the end of July, where members would debate the report and vote on accepting recommended reforms, he said.
“This external, independent report is a comprehensive evaluation of CLRG’s structures and workings, capturing the opinions and mood of Irish dancing teachers across the world,” the spokesman said.
“Its findings and recommendations now require deeper reflection and examination by CLRG, as we decide how to best move forward as an organisation,” he said.