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More than 40 Irish dance teachers and judges facing disciplinary action as part of probe into cheating

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More than forty Irish dance teachers and judges are now facing disciplinary action as part of a global probe into a culture of cheating within the sport and art form.

An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha (CLRG), the largest and oldest Irish dancing body in the world, confirmed today that its independent investigation into alleged cheating has now recommended that 44 cases go to a “full disciplinary hearing.”

The Irish Independent first revealed that last summer, allegations of cheating against 12 Irish dance teachers and judges were handed to the CLRG. In September, former Court of Appeal judge Mr Justice Michael Peart was tasked with helping to establish if those accused of cheating had a case to answer.

In a statement on Thursday, the CLRG said that “the independent investigation team examining allegations of wrongdoing within CLRG has recommended 44 cases under consideration proceed to full disciplinary hearing.

"This follows a thorough examination of all complaints, grievances and all accompanying evidence submitted by Members, by the investigation team led by Mr. Justice Michael Peart, a retired judge of the Court of Appeal.”

“All the individuals involved have been informed and suspended from CLRG competition adjudicating responsibilities while the disciplinary process is ongoing,” it said.

The dance body, which is understood to have over 2,000 members across the world, said that it is currently recruiting “experienced” and “external” individuals to sit on its disciplinary panel to consider the cases.

It is understood that a large number of allegations of cheating, both recent and historic, have been reported to the CLRG since the global alleged cheating scandal came to light.

“We wish to reiterate that CLRG regards all allegations of wrongdoing with the utmost seriousness. We look forward to the External Disciplinary Panel commencing its work and dealing with these issues as soon as possible,” a spokesperson for the CLRG said.

“We would also like to reassure Members that we are fully dedicated to introducing positive changes as agreed and approved by Members’ representatives at An Coimisiún. This is something we are committed to and focused on moving forward.”

The revelation that the investigation into cheating in the world of Irish dance is deepening comes ahead of a major meeting of the CLRG on Saturday. The dance body is holding an Extraordinary General Meeting in Belfast on Saturday, to address concerns among teachers about the way the CLRG has handled the cheating scandal.

It is understood there is unease among dance teachers about the fact that the CLRG has declined a request to hold a hybrid meeting, which would allow dance teachers across the world to participate over Zoom. The EGM is expected to consider calls for James McCuthcheon, the chair of the CLRG, to resign.

At a virtual meeting in October, over 88pc of the 758 teachers who voted in the meeting said that Mr McCuthcheon should resign.

The CLRG said “in order to best facilitate an open, frank and honest discussion of the challenges facing CLRG, the meeting will take place in person.”

Any votes that are held at the meeting will be by private ballot.

“We look forward to seeing as many Delegates at the EGM as possible and to constructive discussion and decision making,” a spokesperson for the CLRG said.

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