Now Irish Dancing Is in the Grip of a Major Cheating Scandal

Following in the footsteps of cheating scandals hitting the worlds of chess and poker, Irish dancing faces claims of score fixing.
irish dancing cheatscore fixing
PHOTO: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Irish dancing has been rocked by its biggest ever cheating scandal, with nearly 20 of the best known teachers and schools in Irish dancing accused of fixing competitions or offering to fix them for their own students.

Irish dancing is immensely popular worldwide, with over 5,000 people competing at Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne, known as the “Olympics of Irish dancing” internationally every year. 

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An investigation by the Irish Independent reported that six Irish dancing teachers appeared to be asking for results to be fixed, or offering to fix results at Gaelic dancing festivals, known as feiseanna. 

This is on top of 12 other teachers who are already being investigated by the governing body, An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha (CLRG). All teachers had had their alleged fixing exposed in screenshots of messages that they had sent. 

The newspaper found that one dance teacher and judge appeared to be exchanging sexual favours for higher scores.

The CLRG told the newspaper it had hired a former Court of Appeal judge to “to oversee and supervise the immediate investigation into these matters. They will have full and open access to the resources and records of CLRG.”

Leo Varadkar, the former Irish Prime Minister, called for the allegations to be fully investigated, adding the hugely popular dance form’s reputation could be at risk.

“Potentially it could cause reputational harm but the solution is not to cover it up, it’s to deal with it and investigate it properly and hold people to account,” he said. 

The scandal comes as chess deals with its own cheating allegations, involving claims of strategically used anal beads.

Fishing has also been hit with claims of cheating after two competitors allegedly put weights in their catches during a contest, and claims of cheating during a $269,000 game of poker.

The CLRG told the Irish Independent 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.”