Enoch Burke to remain in prison after he again refuses to comply with court order

Enoch Burke To Remain In Prison After He Again Refuses To Comply With Court Order
Enoch Burke has now spent over 275 days in prison. Photo: Collins
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High Court reporters

Teacher Enoch Burke is to remain in Mountjoy prison after he has again refused to comply with a High Court order to stay away from Wilson's Hospital School in Co Westmeath.

Mr Burke was brought from Mountjoy Prison to the Court on Tuesday morning, when his ongoing refusal to comply with orders made last year was reviewed by Mr Justice Mark Sanfey.


After refusing to give such undertakings, the judge said that, with some regret, he saw no reason to alter the order committing Mr Burke to prison.

In reply to the judge, Mr Burke said the court was asking him "to do something wrong," adding that by agreeing to comply with the order was "evil."

The judge said he was adjourning the matter to date in late March to further review what is a "profoundly unsatisfactory situation."

The judge said that when the matter next returns, the court wanted the school's lawyers to make submissions on possible alternatives to Mr Burke's ongoing imprisonment, including the sequestration of the teacher's assets.


The court said that Mr Burke continues to be paid his salary pending his appeal against the school's decision to dismiss him, is being imprisoned at a cost to the taxpayer, has not paid any of the fines imposed on him by the High Court last year, nor paid any of the costs orders made against him by the courts in favour of the school.

Mr Burke however described the courts proposal as "a mockery" and had begged the court to deal with the lies that had resulted in his imprisonment and suspension from his job.

Mr Burke, who has spent almost a year behind bars, claims he is being punished for his religious belief, and his refusal to comply with a direction from the school to address a student by a different pronoun.

During his appearance before the court, Mr Burke attempted to raise issues about a report by the school's former principal, Niamh McShane, in 2022, which led to his suspension, which he argues underpins his ongoing imprisonment.


He said that the courts were not properly dealing with the report, which he says contains "lies" and he accused the courts of covering up the truth.

On several occasions Mr Justice Sanfey told Mr Burke that the points he wished to make on the report, nor the decisions of other High Court rulings, were not something he could entertain, and could be aired at different forums.

All the court wanted to know, and its only function, was to see if Mr Burke would comply with the order to stay away from the school.

In reply to Mr Burke's demands that the court address the report and that members of the bench and bar had been "telling lies" the Judge told the teacher to "watch his language".


However, the judge later acknowledged that for most of the proceedings Mr Burke had addressed the court in a civil and respectful manner.

The school, represented by Alex White SC, said it would address the issues raised by the judge, and repeated its stance that while it does not want to see Mr Burke in jail, it wants the orders of the court obeyed.

Counsel also told the court that the school wanted to make it clear its position that Mr Burke is "entitled to hold whatever views he wishes."

The judge said he noted the school's position, but could not allow a flouting of court orders.


Last week Mr Justice Sanfey ruled that Sean, Martina, Isaac and Ammi Burke could not attend because of the disruptive behaviour, which the judge said involved them shouting and roaring on several occasions when before the court.

The court said it had been prepared to allow the Burkes to attend the hearing, but could watch by video link, if they were prepared to give undertakings not to disrupt next week's hearing of Enoch Burke's case. No undertakings were given.

They opposed their exclusion and in his submissions Enoch Burke said it is a breach of their rights to attend court, and the Constitutional right that justice be administered in public

The court made the ruling to ensure that proceedings would not be interrupted.

Enoch Burke has now spent over 275 days in prison.

He was committed to Mountjoy after the school's board asked the court to jail the teacher over his deliberate failure to comply with a permanent injunction restraining him from attending at the school granted by the court in July.

The board claimed that Mr Burke had attended at Wilson's Hospital campus every day when the current school year commenced last August.

His presence at the school had caused "severe disruption for staff and students", the board claimed.
In September the Court found that Mr Burke had "flagrantly breached" the July orders and committed him to prison "indefinitely," until he purges his contempt.

Last December, when his contempt was last up for review, Mr Burke also declined to purge his contempt and agree to comply with an order to stay away from the school.

During his first stint behind bars the Evangelical Christian spent over 100 days in Mountjoy between September and December 2022.

Following his suspension from his position at the school in August 2022 Mr Burke was sued by the school over his failure to comply with a court order requiring him to stay away from the school.

He was released in December 2022 without purging his contempt.

He again started attending at the school after the holidays, and the High Court imposed a daily fine of €700 on Mr Burke.

The teacher denies the claims against him.

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