Irish dancing body to consider exemption for 12-yr-old girl to compete in world championship qualifier

A High Court action brought by a 12-year-old girl has been adjourned to allow a body that governs Irish dancing consider her application for an exemption to allow her dance in a forthcoming world championship qualifier.

Irish dancing body to consider exemption for 12-yr-old girl to compete in world championship qualifier

By Ann O'Loughlin

A High Court action brought by a 12-year-old girl has been adjourned to allow a body that governs Irish dancing consider her application for an exemption to allow her dance in a forthcoming world championship qualifier.

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

The High Court heard this week that through no fault of her own Ella, of Kranlee House, St Andrews Park, Burnetts Lane, Horton Heath in Southampton is not allowed compete for six months because she had to switch dancing teachers last July.

As a result Ella faces the prospect of not being able to take part in a world championship qualifier due to take place next month.

Suing through her mother, Ms Kristy Blair McCarthy, Ella is seeking High Court orders including an injunction restraining the CLRG from preventing her from competition in the Irish Dancing World Championships qualifying round.

When the matter returned before the court today, counsel for the CLRG, Peter Bland SC told Mr Justice Paul Gilligan the parties had reached an accommodation.

Counsel said that It had been agreed that a sub-committee of CLRG's would meet to consider Ella's application for an exemption that, if granted, would allow her enter the regional qualifier.

The case could be adjourned until early November to allow the sub-committee make its decision, counsel said.

Mr Bland also told the court that the six-month period was not a suspension.

The rule was designed to ensure that "undue pressure is not put on the child" when dancers switch teachers, counsel added.

Ella's counsel Gerard Meehan Bl said his client was "willing to accept" the offer from the CLRG.

The adjournment application came after the Judge encouraged the parties to discuss what he said was "a most unfortunate situation" involving a 12-year-old girl who wanted to participate in the world dancing championships.

After being informed the CLRG sub-committee was prepared to consider the application for an exemption, the Judge adjourned the case to November 7.

The Judge said he was prepared to hear the application for an injunction on that date if need be.

Previously Mr Meehan told the High Court that the proceedings had been brought as "a last resort"

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 their former school say it had any difficulties with Ella or her sister.

Counsel said the CLRG'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. She argued it would be unfair that a child, who has done nothing wrong, be punished over a dispute involving adults.

Correspondence had been received from the CLRG's lawyers stating that having carefully considered the matter it was of the view that Ella would have to undergo "a six-month restyling period" in accordance with its rules.

The decision meant Ella would not be able to take part in the qualifier or defend the medal she won at the last World Championships.

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