bail refusal | 

Enoch Burke’s brother Simeon told he could be out of jail ‘with the flick of a pen’

He was remanded in custody again as he continues to refuse to take up bail, claiming he was unlawfully arrested.

Simeon Burke being escorted out of the Court of Appeal by gardaí. Photo: Sathishaa Mohan

Enoch Burke

Ammi Burke

Andrew PhelanSunday World

A DATE has been set for the trial of Enoch Burke’s younger brother Simeon, who denies threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour at the Four Courts.

The law student was told today that his non-jury trial will take place in Dublin District Court on April 17.

He was remanded in custody again as he continues to refuse to take up bail, claiming he was unlawfully arrested.

Judge John Hughes told Mr Burke he was in prison on an "entirely voluntary basis" because the only thing holding him was his own refusal to sign the bail bond.

“It’s somewhat baffling that you, entirely of your own making, are in custody when with the flick of a pen you could walk out,” Judge Hughes said.

Simeon Burke (24) is pleading not guilty to causing a breach of the peace after a court hearing three weeks ago in his brother’s transgenderism dispute with the school where he taught.

The accused, of Cloonsunna, Castlebar, Co Mayo, made his fourth court appearance today after his arrest on March 7.

When the case was called, Simeon Burke told the judge that yesterday in Cloverhill District Court, he had an application “sprung on” him by the prosecution to amend the charge sheet. This had been an amendment to the exact location of the alleged offence.

He said he had no prior notice, that it was "unfair" and it “affects the substance of the charge sheet and goes to the merits of the garda case.”

He asked the judge to strike out the amendment.

Enoch Burke

Judge Hughes asked the accused if he wanted to choose a free legal aid solicitor, have one nominated by the court or decline.

“I don’t, I’m representing myself,” he replied.

His sister, Ammi Burke, a solicitor, was legally assisting him, he said. Ms Burke sat beside him in the dock.

The judge asked Mr Burke if he was applying for his sister to be a legal assistant recognised by the court, known as a “McKenzie friend”.

He said he was neither applying for this or declining it.

On the issue of bail, the judge said Mr Burke had been granted it subject to conditions but declined to sign the bond.

“After being arrested unlawfully,” Mr Burke said.

“So he’s free to walk out of prison if he signs the bond, the only thing holding him in the absence of his signature,” the judge said.

“Yes,” the state solicitor said.

“I have been unlawfully arrested, I was never told the factual basis for my arrest, or even that I was being arrested,” Mr Burke said.

In relation to disclosure, the state solicitor said a written summary of the evidence had been supplied to the accused, and there would be no CCTV evidence or statements.

Mr Burke said he was seeking a hearing date “notwithstanding that it’s unlawful” and he was asking for the case to be struck out on the basis of “unlawful arrest.”

There would be five state witnesses and it was estimated that the trial would take two hours.

Mr Burke said he would have two to three witnesses at the trial, as well as video footage and photographs.

“Because of your status in custody, albeit on an entirely voluntary basis, I’m trying to give you as early a hearing date as I can,” the judge said.

“I would like to push back on the characterisation of me being in custody on a voluntary basis, I am not” Mr Burke said.

The judge asked Ammi Burke not to speak to her brother while he was addressing him. He said because her brother had not applied to have her as a McKenzie friend, she had “no status.”

Ammi Burke

“I’m asking you to remove yourself from the dock and sit where everyone else sits,” the judge asked Ms Burke.

She left the dock, escorted by a garda.

The judge said the accused had a presumption of innocence.

“I’m not going to delve into the reasons why you have decided to not sign the bail bond and remain in custody, that is between you and yourself,” the judge said.

He said he felt obliged to give the case some priority as a result but he did so reluctantly given his “heavy list” of cases including people who were denied bail, and cases of domestic abuse, assaults on children, robberies, victim impact statements, all vying for the court’s “precious resources.”

“It’s somewhat baffling that you, entirely of your own making, are in custody when with the flick of a pen you could walk out,” Judge Hughes said.

Mr Burke said this was “not true.”

The judge adjourned to April 12 for mention, with a reserved hearing date of April 17.

As well as his sister, the accused's parents and brother Isaac were in court to support him.

Mr Burke has been in custody since his first court appearance three weeks ago, when bail was set with no garda objections, no cash lodgement and conditions that he stays away from the Four Courts and sign on three times weekly at his local garda station.

The public order charge against him arises from his alleged behaviour at the Court of Appeal in the Four Courts that day, when his brother Enoch

Burke lost an appeal against injunctions barring him from Wilson's Hospital School in Co Westmeath.

Simeon Burke was arrested as family members were ejected from the court over repeated interruptions to the proceedings.

According to gardai, he was shouting aggressively and would not comply when reasoned with.

Mr Burke claimed he was assaulted by “a mob of gardai” because his family objected to “having transgenderism forced down the throats of the people of this country."

He has said the arrest was unlawful as he was not told the reason for it and “we are not in North Korea where you can be thrown in a cell and not told what you have done.”

Enoch Burke’s dispute centres on his refusal, on religious grounds, to comply with his former school’s request to address a transgender student by their new name and “they/them” pronouns.

The evangelical Christian was suspended, dismissed and prohibited by injunction from attending the school. He spent 108 days in jail for contempt of court by continuing to turn up there. He was released without purging his contempt but continued to return to his former workplace, incurring fines.

The hearing of Enoch Burke's dispute with the school is taking place in the High Court this week.

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