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Gardaí to submit file to DPP after arresting Enoch Burke over alleged school 'trespass'

Mr Burke was arrested after turning up at the Co Westmeath school yesterday morning, just days after he was sacked

Dismissed teacher Enoch Burke outside the locked gates of Wilson's Hospital School in Westmeath. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Conor Feehan and Shane PhelanIndependent.ie

Gardaí are to submit a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) after arresting dismissed schoolteacher Enoch Burke for alleged trespass at Wilson’s Hospital School.

Mr Burke was arrested after turning up at the Co Westmeath school yesterday morning, just days after he was sacked following a chaotic disciplinary meeting which had to be suspended due to shouting and objections from him and members of his family.

He was brought to Mullingar garda station and later released without charge shortly before 2pm, at which point he immediately returned to the school.

Mr Burke was initially unable to re-enter the school grounds as the gates were locked and he was warned gardaí would be called for a second time.

However, he was eventually able to make his way onto the premises when the gates were opened to allow in a school bus. When Mr Burke reached the school he was confronted by principal Frank Milling, who said: “Stop. Stop. Get off the property.”

Enoch Burke arrives at Wilson’s Hospital School

However, Mr Burke remained where he was and only left shortly before 4pm at the end of the school day.

He had earlier claimed he had been wrongfully arrested.

The extraordinary series of events resulted in the school having to advise parents that the gates would be closed for a period for “security purposes” and that they should come to collect their children slightly later than usual.

Mr Burke had initially turned up at the school at 8.30am in an SUV driven by his father Sean, in continued defiance of High Court orders restraining him from doing so.

He spent 108 days in prison last year for contempt of court for defying the orders while he was suspended.

The suspension came after a number of incidents in which Mr Burke, an evangelical Christian, clashed with school management over a request to call a transgender student by a new name.

Mr Burke has claimed he could not comply with the request or subsequent court orders barring him from the school as to do so would violate his religious beliefs.

Two uniformed gardaí arrived at the school at around 11.15am and Mr Burke was arrested and driven away at around 12.30pm. After his release, his father Sean drove him back to the school.

Gardaí said a man had been arrested under the Public Order Act 1994 and a file would be sent to the DPP.

Enoch Burke makes a speech outside school following his arrest this morning

On his return to the school, Mr Burke claimed: “I have broken no laws. I have done nothing wrong.”

He said gardaí spent 45 minutes in the principal’s office that morning and then came down to arrest him.

“A decision already made without even observing the situation.

“That is something that is really, really wrong and regrettable that that would happen and absolutely disgraceful. I have said as much to the gardaí,” he said.

Mr Burke was dismissed from his post at the school late last week. A statement on Friday on his behalf to independent.ie confirmed his employment had been terminated.

The move came a day after a disciplinary meeting, attended by the teacher and members of his family, descended into chaos.

Gardaí were called to the meeting, held by the school’s board of management, after Mr Burke, his mother Martina, sister Ammi and brother Isaac loudly objected to the presence of two lawyers and the absence of the board’s chairman.

The High Court is set to rule this week on an application for the sequestration of his assets for ongoing contempt.

A legal action taken by the school against Mr Burke is due to be heard in the coming months, possibly in March, as is a counterclaim in which he alleges his suspension was flawed and unlawful.

The Court of Appeal is also due to hear Mr Burke’s appeal against various High Court orders next month.


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