Monday 18 December 2017

Irish dancing teacher rejects claims she coerced adjudicator into awarding 'unfavourable marks' to competitors

A competitor warms up at the World Irish Dancing Championships in Citywest, Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 15/4/2017
A competitor warms up at the World Irish Dancing Championships in Citywest, Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 15/4/2017

Aodhan O'Faolain

A former world champion Irish dancer has strongly rejected claims she attempted to coerce an adjudicator into awarding unfavourable marks to certain competitors at a competition they were judging.

The allegation has been made against Linda Martyn who runs Irish Dancing School in Tuam, Co Galway, and who also works as a special needs teacher at a primary school, the High Court heard.

She is the subject of a disciplinary hearing over the alleged comment made to another adjudicator when they were judging an Irish dancing competition that was part of the Great Britain Championships held in the UK on October 15, 2016

She rejects the claim and sought various court orders including an injunction preventing An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha, the body that runs and regulates Irish dancing, from commencing a disciplinary hearing against her.

The court had previously granted her a temporary injunction preventing the hearing, originally fixed for early June, from going ahead.

Her application to extend the injunction, which she sought to be kept in place until her action against An Coimisiun had been determined, came before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan on Wednesday.

Seeking the order, Gerard Meehan Bl, instructed by Niall Colgan & Co Solicitors, said his client had commenced proceedings due to concerns over the investigation process, which it was claimed contained serious shortcomings.

Counsel said Ms Martyn said she was not informed exactly what the allegations against her were.

Ms Martyn was entitled to bring her legal representatives with her to the hearing, but they were not allowed to participate or speak during the disciplinary hearing, he said.

Counsel said that any adverse finding against his client, who had been dancing since she was six years of age, would have a huge effect on her personally and professionally.

"Dancing is her life," counsel said, adding that his client could if there was a finding against her lose her Irish Dance school.

Opposing the application, Dermot Hewson Bl, for An Coimisiun, denied that the allegations against Ms Martyn were unclear, and argued that the disciplinary hearing should be allowed to proceed.

Following an adjournment to discuss issued raised by the Judge, the sides agreed that the hearing should proceed if certain steps were carried out.

The hearing will centre on the allegation that Ms Martyn attempted to coerce an adjudicator, who she did not previously know, into awarding unfavourable marks to certain competitors at the competition. 

Mr Hewson said the Coimision agreed the disciplinary hearing should be conducted by an independent three person committee. 

Two are to be nominated by the Law Society, while the third will be nominated by An Coimisiun.

It will be somebody who has not been involved in the matter previously and will have a knowledge of Irish dancing, the court heard.

In addition Ms Martyn's lawyers will be able to attend and speak for her at the hearing.

Mr Justice Gilligan said the parties were to exchange documents they deem relevant and it was envisaged that the hearing could take place in six weeks time.

The Judge then struck out the injunction application and awarded the costs to Ms Martyn.

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