claims | 

Irish dancing judge suspended over comments about another judge on Facebook allegedly posted by an ex, High Court hears

Stock image© Stock image

Aodhan O'FaolainIndependent.ie

An Irish dancing judge and teacher was suspended by his regulatory body over comments about another judge which had allegedly been posted on his Facebook page by his former girlfriend, the High Court heard.

The claim has been made by Glasgow-based Irish dancing teacher and judge, Adrian Stewart, who says that he was suspended for three years and fined last year by An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha (CLRG) arising out of a complaint made against him in 2019.

He claims that the comments appeared on his Facebook page about another Irish dancing judge at a World Irish Dancing Championship Qualifying tournament in Glasgow where he was also an adjudicator.

He said that concerns were raised to him by parents of students about the other judge, who it was alleged, was not paying proper attention to competitions.

Mr Stewart said that he defended the judge in question.

He claims later that day he discovered posts on his Facebook page criticising the other judge's behaviour.

He claims that he quickly deleted the posts, which he says were online for two to three minutes and did not reflect his opinion.

He claims the comments were posted on his Facebook page by his then girlfriend, who he says has admitted posting them on his phone while he was in the bathroom.

The other judge who was the subject of the comments made a formal complaint to the CLRG and Mr Stewart underwent an investigation and then a disciplinary process which were conducted by committees of the CLRG.

He said that his then girlfriend furnished a sworn statement to the CLRG admitting that she made the posts on Mr Stewart's Facebook page, and that he had defended the other judge.

The CLRG's Disciplinary Committee, in July 2021, issued him with a written warning.

However, that finding was appealed by the CLRG's investigatory committee to the CLRG's Appeals Committee.

It decided to suspend Mr Stewart's registration with the CLRG for a period of three years and fined him €1,000. In order to teach Irish dancing or judge at any events accreditation is required from the CLRG.

He claims that the appeals process was flawed, should never have been permitted and that the Appeal's Committee's findings should be quashed.

Information that was put before that Committee was inaccurate, Mr Stewart also claims.

Mr Stewart also claims that persons on the CLRG's Appeals Committee that considered the complaint were persons who had made complaints about him in 2016.

In High Court proceedings against the CLRG he claims that the suspension is unlawful and seeks orders including an injunction quashing his suspension and the fine.

He claims that he has sought to appeal the Appeals Committee decision but has not been allowed to do so by the defendant.

He claims his suspension and fine will damage his reputation and his family business.

He says that earlier this year his suspension was announced at a meeting of the CLRG and on one occasion he was asked to leave a Féis that he was not adjudicating at.

Represented by Michael O'Doherty Bl, instructed by solicitor Niall Colgan, Mr Stewart is also seeking various declarations from the court including an order directing the defendant organisation to announce at its next meeting that his suspension and fine have been lifted.

He also seeks a declaration that the investigatory committee acted outside of its powers by appealing the Disciplinary Committee's decision that a written warning was merited.

He further seeks declarations that the Appeals Committee that imposed the suspension broke its own procedures in the manner in which it conducted the appeal, and that Mr Stewart's actions which were the subject of the disciplinary hearings did not breach the CLRG's Code of Conduct or Social Media Guidelines.

The matter was briefly mentioned before Ms Justice Siobhan Stack on Friday.

The judge, on an ex-parte (only Stewart side represented) basis, said she was satisfied to grant Mr Stewart permission to serve short notice of the injunction proceedings on the CLRG.

The matter will return before the court later this month.


Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos