Irish dance teacher Deirdre O’Mara has launched an online petition urging An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha (CLRG, the oldest and largest competitive Irish dance organization in the world) to “put children at the heart” of the organization’s mission.

"Dear CLRG: Help us to help you," O'Mara wrote on the petition she launched on Friday, June 7.

"Put children at the heart of CLRG's mission.

"Operate from what is in their best interest.

"Listen to your teachers, we are the front line."

Signing her name to the petition, O'Mara described herself as a "CLRG Registrant, dancer, teacher, choreographer, mentor, cheerleader, maker & memories & so much more."

Irish dance teacher Deirdre O'Mara with some of her World-qualifying students.

Irish dance teacher Deirdre O'Mara with some of her World-qualifying students.

A native of Dublin who now teaches Irish dance at her school Scoil Rince Saoirse in New York, O'Mara launched her petition a week before CLRG is set to vote on motions to raise membership fees as well as fees for World competitors or potentially face bankruptcy. 

The motions were announced not long after Sandra Connick, the Chairperson of CLRG, confirmed in a letter to membership that the organization was no longer in the position to further pursue disciplinary actions related to the so-called 'feis fixing' scandal that emerged in October 2022.

While Connick did not offer exact reasoning in her letter, it is believed that the disciplinary proceedings were abandoned due to the organization's dire financial situation.

The motions being voted upon next week to raise fees are deeply unpopular with teachers, many of whom are frustrated with how the cheating scandal has been managed.

"Gobsmacked" by the organization's predicament, O'Mara has - perhaps inadvertently - emerged as an organizer for frustrated Irish dance teachers.

Two weeks ago, she took to social media in hopes of bringing together some fellow Irish dance teachers for a brainstorm. She expected 10 to 20 teachers to join - instead, hundreds signaled their interest.

Since then, O'Mara has hosted multiple virtual meetings with hundreds of Irish dance teachers from around the world, including one on Friday morning, the day she launched her petition.

She additionally ran an online survey where anyone could offer suggestions for CLRG. She told IrishCentral last week that she will compile the survey's findings and share them publicly.

In a public social media post announcing her petition on Friday, O'Mara's passion for Irish dance was evident, as was her frustration with the current situation.

She wrote that she is "so saddened by how my colleagues at home feel right now with the reputation and the beating Irish dance is taking in Ireland.

"I had known that, and get a lot of texts about it, but hearing it spoken about so eloquently and painfully really broke my heart, that something so beautiful should become so tarnished.

"We have to do better. I will do better.

"I may not be proud of our organization right now, but I am so proud of my fellow dance teachers."

O'Mara said in her post that she is inviting CLRG leadership to two more virtual meetings next week ahead of its Emergency General Meeting on June 14 "to hear us."

"We deserve to be heard." O'Mara wrote. "We are worth listening to and despite everything, we are willing to help you right the ship.

"Look into your own heart and ask yourself are you a part of the problem or the solution. Be honest. Be brave and do the right thing."

O'Mara continued: "It is time to put our students at the heart of this organization where they belong.

"If we do not, I do not want to be a part of it anymore and I have been with CLRG since I was dancing in the blue shed of Marie Walsh Kelly in her back garden when I was 4 years old.

"I loved it then. I love it now.

"My heart is as broken as the organization.

"We are willing to work to fix this."

O'Mara added: "If you value the beauty and artistry of Irish dance and all it brings to all of our lives, especially our children, please sign this petition to show CLRG Irish Dancing Commission we want our dance form restored.

"The petition is open to everyone. Please sign it. Enough is enough."