‘I’m innocent’ | 

Simeon Burke says he did not curse as he denies abusive behaviour charge

‘We are not in North Korea where you can be thrown in a cell and not told what you have done’

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

Andrew PhelanIndependent.ie

The younger brother of sacked schoolteacher Enoch Burke has pleaded not guilty to using threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour at Dublin’s Four Courts.

Simeon Burke (24) today denied that he caused a breach of the peace at a hearing three weeks ago in his brother's ongoing transgenderism dispute with his former school.

The law student was remanded in custody again as he continues to refuse to take up bail.

"I'm innocent," he said at Cloverhill District Court today, claiming the case against him was "lies" and insisting that he had been unlawfully arrested.

The accused, who has been in prison since his arrest in early March, told Judge Cephas Power: “We are not in North Korea where you can be thrown in a cell and not told what you have done."

Judge Power told Mr Burke he had consent to bail but had to sign the bond. He adjourned the case to tomorrow, when a trial date will be set.

Today was Mr Burke's third court appearance since he was arrested on March 7 during a disturbance after the Court of Appeal rejected Enoch Burke’s appeal against injunctions barring him from Wilson's Hospital school in Co Westmeath.

Simeon Burke, of Cloonsunna, Castlebar, Co Mayo, had been in court to support his brother and was arrested as gardaí ejected members of the family over interruptions to the hearing.

The case was back before Cloverhill court today for the accused to decide on a plea.

“I need to speak about the precis of evidence given to me, it contains 15 sentences and 15 lies,” Mr Burke told Judge Power this afternoon. “It’s a made up story. These guards have fabricated evidence against me.”

He said it was a lie that he had been insulting, abusive or aggressive in court or that he had held onto the bench, or that he had been told why he was being arrested.

He said his arrest had been “blatantly unlawful” and the “dogs in the street know” that you had to be told the reason for arrest.

“We are not in North Korea where you can be thrown in a cell and not told what you have done,” he said. "Halt this process and free me from this jail.”

He alleged it had been the gardaí who acted abusively and threateningly, that they “flung expletives” at him and ripped open his shirt.

“Not a single curse issued from my lips that day,” he said.

He alleged that the gardaí “injured me, wounding both my hands” and that he had been bruised all over his body. He said he had needed medication for the pain.

“It’s the guards who have broken the law, not me,” he said.

He asked the court for an expedited trial date.

He said he was supposed to be sitting his drafting exams in the King’s Inns this morning and he was being “deprived of my future”.

“It’s a disgrace,” he said, alleging that it was “the guards who have perpetrated this abuse” against him.

“The rights of the citizens of this country are hanging in the balance,” Mr Burke continued. “Are gardaí above the law?”

He said he had been thrown in a cell for the last three weeks and asked if people could be detained on the basis of “unlawful activity by the gardaí”.

Judge Power said he took it Mr Burke was pleading not guilty.

“I’m not guilty of any of these charges,” he replied.

Mr Burke said he was ready to face the charges and added: “I’m innocent.”

At the application of state solicitor Niamh McKernan, the judge made a “minor technical amendment” to the location of the alleged offence on the charge sheet.

“It’s still lies,” Mr Burke said.

The judge asked how many state witnesses there would be and Garda Sergeant Sean Keoghan said there would be five.

Judge Power asked the accused how long he would need.

“I will be as long as it takes to oppose these lies,” Mr Burke said.

The judge adjourned the case to tomorrow, when the accused will appear at Dublin District Court, to be given a hearing date.

He said the presiding judge there would give him the earliest hearing date possible.

Judge Power told Mr Burke he had continued consent to bail but that he had to sign the bond.

“It’s shameful that I should be remanded in custody on the basis of false allegations and an unlawful arrest.”

His father Sean Burke sat in the court’s public gallery throughout the hearing but did not address the court.

At Mr Burke’s first district court appearance on March 7, Garda Conor Dwyer said he was called to the Four Courts at 3.23pm where the accused was allegedly shouting and provoking a breach of the peace, and was escorted outside, the garda said.

“I tried to reason with him and he did not comply,” he said.

Simeon Burke claimed had been assaulted by “a mob of gardaí” because his family objected to “having transgenderism forced down the throats of the people of this country".

There was no garda objection to bail subject to conditions and the judge set bail in his own bond of €200, with no cash lodgement required.

Under conditions, he is to stay away from the Four Courts and sign on three times weekly at his local garda station.

At the earlier Court of Appeal hearing, Enoch Burke lost an appeal aimed at overturning court orders preventing him from attending Wilson’s Hospital School.

He was suspended, then dismissed in the row over his refusal on religious grounds to address a transgender student by their preferred name and pronouns.

The evangelical Christian spent 108 days in jail for contempt of court by continuing to turn up at the school. 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 opened in High Court today.

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