Last week a London-based Irish dance instructor, Amanda Hennigan, filed a lawsuit against the Irish Dancing Commission or An Coimisiún Le Rinci Gaelacha (CLRG) in Ireland’s High Court. Ms. Hennigan’s dance-instructor certification was suspended by the CLRG earlier this month after an investigation suggested that she and 43 other members of the Irish dance community were engaged in efforts to fix the outcome of national and international competitions.
Allegations were first brought to the CLRG in July 2021 by an anonymous source. The complainant alleged that at least 12 instructors in Ireland and abroad were directly contacting competition judges in order to receive higher scores for their students.
Most communication between instructors and judges took place via text messages. Several of the messages were included in Hennigan’s pleadings and the substance of the texts was reported in The Irish Times:
The messages are clear, along the lines of “could I ask you to look out for” and “I will sort her out” to “just do the best you can for them” and “have a girl u15 that needs to qualify”.
“The very best you can do for her – it’s a huge competition,” reads one text message.
“If she’s good, I will be doing best for her before the rest but won’t forget about yours,” reads another.
However, at least one exchange between two male instructors involved a more direct quid pro quo. The Irish Times reports:
In detailed exchanges between two male teachers who also act as judges, the conversations are sexually explicit, with one of the teachers appearing to offer sexual favours for higher scores.
“Will you be nice to her and if you are on with her make sure she’s okay. Please. I’ll s**k your d**k at the world [championships] as a thank you,” said the teacher.
In other exchanges, the two men talk about what hotel room numbers they are in with, on one occasion, one man asking the other to come to their room soon. There appears to be discussion about being ready for a sexual act.
“No visit no 100s,” he wrote, adding laughing emojis to the text and referring to the maximum score a dancer can get from a judge in a competition.
“Well the better you are to me the more you get [kisses emojis],” said one man to the other in another exchange of texts messages concerning scores in a competition.
In August, the CLRG asked a retired judge from Ireland’s Court of Appeals to investigate the matter. He concluded that the allegations had merit and recommended that at least 44 CLRG-certified individuals (instructors and judges) face disciplinary action.
Those individuals were suspended in December and Ms. Hennigan has been the first to take legal action challenging the decision.
The content of Ms. Hennigan’s pleadings has been summarized by IrishCentral.com:
In her proceedings, Hennigan is seeking various orders, including one halting the disciplinary proceedings against her, as well as an injunction lifting her suspension from adjudicating until her High Court action has been determined.
Hennigan claims CLRG’s decision to investigate and suspend her is flawed for several reasons, including its decision to investigate the complaints without interviewing her and without providing her with any of the details about the specific allegations against her.
She also claims that the material, including the documents outlining the complaints against her and others that were published online, was defamatory of her and that CLRG should have taken steps to have it taken down.
The High Court has granted Hennigan’s motion for a hearing next month when she will seek an injunction from the court pausing her suspension while the legal proceedings are underway.