Several Burke family members excluded from review of Enoch Burkes' contempt hearing

Several Burke Family Members Excluded From Review Of Enoch Burkes' Contempt Hearing
Members of the Burke family attending an earlier hearing. At the High Court on Friday Mr Justice Mark Sanfey ruled that Sean, Martina, Isaac and Ammi Burke could not attend because of disruptive behaviour. Photo: PA Images
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High Court Reporters

A High Court judge has excluded several members of Enoch Burke's family from attending next week's review of the teacher's on-going refusal to stay away from Wilson's Hospital School in Co Westmeath.

At the High Court on Friday Mr Justice Mark Sanfey ruled that Sean, Martina, Isaac and Ammi Burke could not attend because of disruptive behaviour, which the judge said involved them shouting and roaring on previous occasions before the court.


The court said it had been prepared to allow the Burkes to attend the hearing if they were prepared to give undertakings not to disrupt next week's hearing of Enoch Burke's case.

Otherwise, arrangements would be made so they could view the proceedings via a video link, the judge said.

The judge had invited the Burke family members to make submissions to the court regarding their proposed exclusion.


The court heard that all four, as well as Enoch Burke strongly objected to their exclusion.


One family member, Dr Isaac Burke attended at the court and argued that he, his sister and their parents should be allowed attend the hearing.

However, following a heated exchange between Dr Burke and the judge, Dr Burke was physically removed from the courtroom by gardaí after he refused to comply with a direction by the Judge to leave the courtroom.

Dr Burke became animated, and repeatedly demanded the judge withdraw a remark where Mr Justice Sanfey described Dr Burke's statements to the court as being an "interrogation."

Mr Justice Sanfey refused to withdraw his remark, which Dr Burke strongly and vocally objected to.


Prior to his exclusion from the court, Dr Burke described the exclusion order as being "outrageous", and a breach of the constitutional right that justice be administered in public.

No detail of each individuals alleged disruptive behaviour had been furnished by the judge to them, Dr Burke added.

He said that his family members had not been given proper notice of the decision to exclude them, which he said was wrongfully made in advance of them being allowed to make any submissions.

He questioned the independence of the decision given that it was identical to an order made against them by Mr Justice Edwards in separate proceedings before the Court of Appeal earlier this year.


Dr Burke further took exception to the judge's description of members of his family as being the 'Burkes'.

He said that there are 12 members of his family, that they are "not a collective" and each have individual rights.

Enoch Burke, via a video link from Mountjoy Prison, also addressed the court.

He claimed to have been dragged from his cell and said he had no advance warning of the application to exclude members of his family from next weeks proceedings.



Mr Burke was also animated in his submissions before the judge ordered that his microphone be muted.

He repeatedly criticised Mr Justice Sanfey and other members of the judiciary who have made rulings against him.

He described the judge and his colleagues as being "liars".

Mr Enoch Burke added that the real reason he has spent almost a year behind bars was because he was being punished for his religious belief and his opposition to transgenderism.

In reply, the Judge said that in his 36 years as a lawyer and a judge he had never been called nor heard another judge been called a liar in a courtroom.

He said that members of the Burke family had been written to in advance of next weeks hearing in relation to the court's proposal to exclude them from the proceedings.

This was due to their past behaviour at numerous hearing before the court.


The judge said that when Enoch Burkes case was last before him, he had to rise five times due to family's "tag team" disruption of the court proceedings.

One member of the family would start shouting at the court, resulting in their removal from the court, the judge said, before another member would then start shouting.

The judge said that the court was entitled to take steps to maintain good order in the courts.

He added that their constitutional rights that justice be administered in public and the rights of members of the public to attend court had been fully taken into account.

He said the court was prepared to allow them to attend if they gave undertakings not to disrupt the proceedings and consider any submissions in support of their attendance.

No such undertakings were provided, and the judge said he was making orders excluding them from next weeks hearing.

Last December Mr Burke declined to purge his contempt and agree to comply with an order to stay away from the school.

Enoch Burke has been in prison for 275 days over what he says is his refusal to accept a direction from the school to address a student by a different pronoun.

He was committed to Mountjoy Prison 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 2023-24 school year commenced in August.

His presence at the school had caused "severe disruption for staff and students" the board claimed.

In September the High Court found that Mr Burke had "flagrantly breached" the July orders requiring him to stay away from the school and committed him to prison "indefinitely," until he purges his contempt.

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 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 and says that his constitutional rights were breached by the school's direction that he refer to a student by a different gender.

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