'Civil order' | 

Trans row teacher Enoch Burke defies court order as he shows up at school

Burke was seen entering Wilson’s Hospital School in Co Westmeath this morning shortly after 8.30am

Shane PhelanIndependent.ie

Teacher Enoch Burke turned up at Wilson’s Hospital School this morning, in defiance of a court order, as the Co Westmeath school reopened after the Christmas break.

A statement from An Garda Síochána said it was aware of the attendance by an individual at a school, but that officers 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 can intervene.

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 Church of Ireland diocesan boarding school in Multyfarnham.

The orders were secured by the school last August after 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 Burke broke orders again.

Despite these threats, Burke was seen arriving at the school in a car this morning around 8.30am. He was dropped off by his father Sean.

A photographs later circulated on social media purported to show Burke in a school corridor.

It is unclear what the school’s response to the situation will be, but there has been no indication that any application for Burke’s arrest will be made to the High Court today.

A member of staff said the school had “no comment” when contacted by Independent.ie.

It is understood gardaí have been liaising with the school throughout the day.

In a statement, 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 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.

Burke’s 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.

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.

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.

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 Burke.

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

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

Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos