Friday 20 September 2019

Girl (12) launches 'last resort' court appeal against Irish dancing body in bid to participate in qualifier

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Aodhan O'Faolain

A 12-YEAR-old girl has launched High Court proceedings against an Irish dancing body aimed at allowing her participate in a world championship qualifier due to take place next month.

The proceedings have been brought by UK based Ella McCarthy, who is ranked in the top 10 Irish dancers in the world, against An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha (CLRG) an organisation that regulates and runs competitive Irish step dancing.  

The court heard on Wednesday that through no fault of her own Ella, of Kranlee House, St Andrews Park, Burnetts Lane, Horton Heath in Southampton, has been suspended from competition for six months because she had to switch dancing teachers.

Ella now faces the prospect of not being able to take part in a world championship qualifier next month.

Suing through her mother, Kristy Blair McCarthy, Ella seeks orders including an injunction restraining the CLRG from preventing her from competing in the Irish Dancing World Championships qualifying round. 

Her counsel Gerard Meehan told the court the proceedings have been brought as "a last resort". Her mother had tried to engage constructively with the CLRG in relation to the matter, but says the governing body has effectively ignored her correspondence.

Counsel said Ella and her sister had been attending a dancing school in London.

Due to differences between Ella's mother and the head of the school, Ella and her sister were "expelled" in July, counsel said.

Counsel said at no stage did the school express it had any difficulty with Ella or her sister.

Counsel said the governing body's rules require that Ella must be registered with a teacher registered with the CLRG in order to compete in Irish dancing championships.

As a result of her former school's decision, counsel said Ella and her sister were registered as being students of their mother.

However, under CLRG rules, a pupil who moves from one registered teacher to another cannot enter in any official competition until a period of six months has elapsed, counsel said.

Under the rules, the new teacher can apply to the CLRG for an exemption where extreme circumstances indicate that such an exemption should be granted.

Ella's mother made contact with the governing body in order to seek an exemption.

However,  CLRG's lawyers said the organisation was of the view that Ella would have to undergo "a six month restyling period"  in accordance with its rules.

Counsel said the suspension means Ella, a committed Irish dancer, wont be able to take part in the Southern England regional qualifier.

The application came before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan, who on an ex-parte (one side only represented) basis, granted Ella's lawyers permission to serve short notice of the proceedings on the CLRG.  The case comes back tomorrow.

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