The Irish version of Dirty Dancing has at last come to town, or at least its presence in town has finally been discovered long after it arrived. In the view of Kincaid Stringer, a dance teacher in Salthill, ‘Dodgy stuff at Irish dancing competitions has been open secret for years.' The Irish Independent claims to have accessed electronic records indicating that dodgy dancing has been carelessly choreographed by both teachers and judges. There has even been a suggestion of sexual favours in exchange for higher scores. Thus spoke the end of innocence and comely maidens dancing at those crossroads.
All of it leaving An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha (CLRG) facing:
its largest ever alleged cheating scandal, which has seen some of the most successful and well regarded Irish dance teachers and schools accused of fixing competitions for their own students.
Anyone familiar with getting up before the sun in order to get a child to their competition knows what it means for both parents and children. Years of Herculean effort by the child matched by parents depleting already sparse finances in order to provide the apparel and transport - and for what? To see your child swindled out of what might rightfully be theirs by others who performed a dance of deception. Light fingers fleecing light feet. Kincaid Stringer was correctly, not corruptly, on the money in his reported assertion that"
the alleged cheating scandal in Irish dance was a major betrayal of children, some of whom may spend more time with their Irish dancing teacher every week than they do with their own parents . . . It's betrayal, is what it is. Imagine thinking you have this relationship and this bond and integrity and hard work and work ethic and, you know, working towards a similar goal with your teacher, and then you find something out like that. It's devastating.
Rip Off Ireland seems to have found a new vendor to flash its wares. The Rig A Jig scandal is nothing short of institutional abuse: children's hopes dashed, their bright futures possibly diverted into dark cul de sacs. Tanaiste Leo Varadkar's concern that it could all lead to reputational damage for Ireland is no reason to allow dark corners so that the culpable and corrupt abusers of children can dance into the wings. Place them centre stage, the uncontested podium of perfidy their own.
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