Irish dance fixing 'accepted and allowed', former teacher claims

Cora Sommerville was speaking amid allegations of competition fixing between teachers and judges
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.57 6 Oct 2022

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Irish dance fixing 'accepted a...

Irish dance fixing 'accepted and allowed', former teacher claims

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.57 6 Oct 2022

Share this article

A former Irish dancing teacher has claimed the fixing of competitions 'was accepted and allowed'.

Cora Sommerville is a former member of An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha as an Irish dancing teacher and adjudicator.

She was speaking amid allegations of mass competition fixing between dancing teachers and judges.


The Irish Independent reports that screenshots exist of over a dozen individuals seemingly asking or offering to fix dancing competitions.

Cora told The Hard Shoulder this is not a surprise.

"My reaction is that it's no surprise because it's always been a rumoured culture that this has been going on.

"As far as I'm concerned during my duration with the organisation, it was accepted and allowed," she said.

"I never really saw any proof or anything done about it while I was a member".

'Competition had grown'

She said the organisation is self-made one.

"It's totally competitive based; it's not an organisation that is in any way a dance education-based organisation.

"It has its roots in the Gaelic League: so competition had grown during its time, and then a World Championships was introduced.

"So it's highly, highly competitive; and for anyone that's not in an organisation like that, you just have no idea of how competitive it is".

'They return the favour'

Asked whether it could be referred to as an 'open secret' within Irish dancing, she said: "Probably, yes".

She explained that it is not about money changing hands.

"It's judging: the students I give it to of another school, that they will return the favour to me.

"The culture is they're looking after each other.

"The sad thing about this... is we're talking about children, and most of those involved in Irish dancing are under years of age.

"They're subject to this culture, and they're even aware of it".

'Totally disillusioned'

Ms Sommerville said she eventually left the organisation.

"I just became totally disillusioned with the fairness and the whole leadership of the organisation.

"I just said 'I've had enough, I can't do this anymore and my voice won't be heard.'

"I'm only one person that wants to speak out, there's nobody else.

"If you speak out, the whole ethos with people is 'If I speak out, my children are going to suffer in competition'".

Main image: Competitors during the All Scotland Irish Dancing Championships in Glasgow in February 2016. Picture by: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

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An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha Competition Cora Sommerville Irish Dance Fixing Irish Dancing The Hard Shoulder

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