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Enoch Burke formally appeals injunction preventing him attending school

Jailed Irish secondary school teacher Enoch Burke has formally lodged an appeal against an injunction preventing him from attending the school where he is employed. It is believed that the hearing will not be heard until after Christmas.

Folowing a dispute about the use of transgender pronouns, the school obtained an injunction against Mr Burke preventing him from attending the school. When he broke the injunction, he was committed to prison last month to stay there until he agrees to obey the court order not to attend or attempt to teach any classes at Wilson’s Hospital School, a Church of Ireland boarding school in Multyfarnham, County Westmeath. 

The situation arose from Mr Burke’s decision to express his strong opposition to the school’s request to call a transgender student a new name and to use the ‘they’ pronoun.

The Co Mayo teacher has been described by parents as an “excellent teacher”, and he claims that he was being suspended because of his religious beliefs.

Because of his failure to purge his contempt of court, Mr Burke has been in jail at Mountjoy prison since early September.

In mid September, the Sunday World reported that Mr Burke had been moved to the Progression Unit in Mountjoy, where his new neighbours included alleged Kinehan gangster, Declan ‘Mr Nobody’ Brady. He had previously been accommodated in the reception area of the main prison until this point due to issues surrounding his safety and cell spaces.

The paper reported that the teacher’s most high-profile new neighbour was Brady, who is currently facing a charge before the Special Criminal Court of helping a criminal gang murder father of four Noel Kirwan five years ago. 

The sight of the teacher, who has been found guilty of no crime or misconduct at Wilson’s Hospital School, being brought by prison officers into the High Court in handcuffs last month, sparked reaction on social media. 

Veteran journalist David Davin Power was among those to describe the use of handcuffs as “crazy”, while journalist and editor of the Irish Catholic, Michael Kelly wrote at the time:

“Handcuffs? While maniacs with hundreds of convictions walk the streets”.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr Burke, who was assisted by his brother Isaac Burke, was accompanied by members of the Irish Prison Service as he formally lodged his appeal against the injunction at the Office of the Court of Appeal. 

On Monday, the High Court had granted him an order permitting him to attend the Four Courts complex in person. In his formal appeal, Mr Burke wants to High Court to set aside orders including the use of the temporary ex-parte injunction against him, and the subsequent decision to keep the injunction in place pending the final hearing of the matter.

In addition, he has appealed against the High Court’s dismissal of applications brought by Burke aimed at setting aside his suspension from the school. He has, however, not appealed against the High Court orders committing him to prison for contempt. 

His appeal is due to be mentioned before a directions hearing of the Court of Appeal later in the month. It is understood his appeal is unlikely to be heard before Christmas, according to the Irish Examiner. 

Following the lodging of the appeal, Mr Burke was transported back to Mountjoy. Mr Burke’s brother Isaac spoke to the media present afterwards, and said his brother still has “no intention” of purging his contempt, a decision that would secure his release from Mountjoy Prison.

Mr Burke’s case has attracted worldwide attention, casting a spotlight on issues of freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. Discussing the case on Sky News Australia, commentator and former political advisor Chris Kenny said it presented a “worrying situation”:

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