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Teacher Enoch Burke shows up at school for second day in a row after Christmas break in defiance of a court order

Burke was seen entering Wilson’s Hospital School in Co Westmeath on Thursday shortly after 8.30am and leaving at 3.45pm The teacher was released from prison in December after he was jailed for contempt of court Court orders restraining him from attending for work were first secured by school last August He was suspended from work after publicly challenging a request from his principal that teachers call a transgender student ‘they’

Shane Phelan and Seoirse MulgrewIndependent.ie

Teacher Enoch Burke has turned up at Wilson’s Hospital School for the second day in a row, in defiance of a court order, after the Co Westmeath school reopened following the Christmas break.

Mr Burke arrived just before 8.30am this morning and was again in a car driven by his father Sean.

It comes after he also spent most of Thursday at the school, when he arrived around the same time was later collected by his father and driven away at 3.45pm.

Independent.ie has today contacted the school for comment.

Gardaí were aware of his presence at the Church of Ireland diocesan boarding school in Multyfarnham, but the force said it had no role at this time “as these matters refer to a civil order”.

It is thought the school would have to bring fresh attachment and committal proceedings in the High Court before gardaí could intervene.

The school has yet to say what its response to the situation will be. A staff member said it had "no comment" when contacted on Thursday.

However, a fresh court application appears likely, particularly if Mr Burke continues to attend at the school premises in the coming days.

He declined to stop to answer questions from reporters as he left the school yesterday.

Mr Burke spent 108 days in jail last year for contempt of court after breaching temporary High Court orders restraining him from attending for work or attempting to teach children at the school.

The orders were secured by the school last August after Mr Burke kept showing up for work despite being suspended on full pay pending a disciplinary process.

The suspension came after incidents in which he publicly challenged a request from his principal that teachers call a transgender student “they” instead of “he”.

The German and history teacher is an evangelical Christian and says transgenderism is against his religious beliefs.

He refused on several occasions to purge his contempt, but a judge finally ordered his release from Mountjoy Prison on December 21 after finding the teacher was “exploiting his imprisonment for his own ends”.

Mr Justice Brian O’Moore warned that the only threat to Burke’s freedom would be if he again breaches any order of the court. The judge said the court could impose financial sanctions, either instead of or in conjunction with incarceration, if Mr Burke broke orders again.

Despite these threats, Mr Burke returned to the school as soon as it reopened after the Christmas holidays.

Enoch Burke being brought into Bridewell Garda station last September. Photo: Collins Courts

It is understood gardaí liaised with the school throughout the day on Thursday.

In a statement yesterday, a Garda spokesperson said: “An Garda Síochána are aware of the matters as highlighted. As these matters refer to a civil order, An Garda Síochána has no role at this time.

“The role of An Garda Síochána is to ensure peace and public order is maintained, and no criminal offence is committed.”

The High Court has heard that on previous occasions Mr Burke attended at the school for the hours he would have been rostered to work had he not been suspended. On those occasions he ended up sitting in an empty classroom and students were brought to another room for their lessons.

Mr Burke has repeatedly claimed that he could not comply with the principal’s request due to his religious beliefs and that court orders restraining him from attending for work at the school breach his constitutional rights.

His first attendance at the school came a day after he had sought a High Court injunction preventing the school from holding a disciplinary meeting to consider allegations of misconduct against him.

Mr Burke appeared before a vacation sitting of the High Court on Wednesday where he secured permission from Ms Justice Siobhan Stack, on an ex-parte basis, to serve short notice of the injunction application on Wilson’s Hospital School.

The judge made the matter returnable on to January 11, before Mr Justice O’Moore when the new legal term commences.

Mr Burke told the court he received a letter from the school on December 22 informing him that a disciplinary hearing, which had originally been fixed for last September but was put on hold following his imprisonment for contempt, would now go ahead on January 19.

Mr Burke told Ms Justice Stack he wished to seek an injunction preventing that meeting from going ahead.

He said he had previously made a similar application for an injunction regarding the disciplinary meeting before a different judge. However, that application was not ruled on after the school gave an undertaking to the court that it would pause the disciplinary process and only restart it on notice to Mr Burke.

Mr Burke complained about the return date, saying the matter was extremely urgent and asked the judge to make it returnable before January 11.

But the judge refused to bring the matter back before the court any earlier.


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