Photo credit: Burke Broadcast

Enoch Burke jailed for second time over continued presence at school

Enoch Burke has tonight been jailed for a second time over his continued presence at his former place of work, Wilson’s Hospital School.

On Friday evening, a High Court Judge ordered that Mr Burke be returned to Mountjoy Prison because of his ongoing refusal to stay away from the Church of Ireland boarding school in County Westmeath.

The school’s senior counsel, Mr Andrew White and barrister Rosemary Martin, said that Mr Burke had been turning up at the school every day since the new school year began on August 28th.

Mr White, opening the application, claimed that it had been brought forward “with considerable reluctance”, but that the school had no other options than to seek the “radical step” of securing Mr Burke’s committal.

High Court Judge Mr Justice Mark Heslin said there was “no dispute” the History and German teacher had been in breach of orders requiring him to stay away from the school. 

The school’s board of management, represented by Mr White and Barr. Martin, had requested the orders from the court seeking Mr Burke’s attachment and committal to prison over his failure to comply with a permanent injunction granted to the school by Mr Justice Alexander earlier in the year. 

While the injunction sought to restrain the dismissed teacher from his former workplace unless given express permission, Mr Burke has been unrelenting in maintaining his presence at the school.

In June, before the school broke for the summer, Mr Burke claimed he had been “mobbed” by supportive students outside the school gate on the last day of term.

“I was mobbed by some senior students wanting me to sign their shirts, wanting autographs, wanting pictures and wishing me well,” he told the Sunday Times newspaper.

“I think it’s very regrettable in our country that children have a greater conscience and a greater grasp of right and wrong than the judge in the chair that’s getting paid €250,000. I think that’s a very sad state for our country to be in,” Mr Burke said.

The school brought a new application before the High Court on Tuesday, filing the application over Mr Burke’s alleged ongoing attendance at the school despite the orders mandating him to stay away. Mr Burke slammed the application, saying it was a long time since the High Court had to deal with such a “manifestly diabolical” application.

An Irish Times report detailed claims from Barrister Rosemary Mallon that Mr Burke’s presence at the school since the new school year started has been “causing severe disruption for staff and students.” She claimed that school principal, Frank Milling, along with staff, have spent a large amount of their working day trying to deal with the impact of his presence outside the school.

In court on Friday, the judge asked Mr Burke on three occasions if he was prepared to give an undertaking in the terms of the order against him. However, The Irish Examiner reports that Mr Burke, who was accompanied by his parents and other members of his family, “remained silent.” 

“The judge said he was taking Mr Burke’s silence to mean he was refusing to give the undertaking sought, and committed him to Mountjoy Prison,” the paper tonight reports.

The matter is set to come before the court again in early October. 

Just days before Christmas, Mr Burke was freed from Mountjoy Prison after spending over 100 days there, after being jailed in September of last year.

The teacher consistently refused to agree to stay away from the school in the circumstances of being released. 

Tonight, the judge said Mr Burke could be released from prison at any time, if he agreed to stay away from the school.

Mr Burke has insisted that the principal of the school expected he would accept transgender ideology which was something in conflict with his conscience and religious beliefs, and that everything which had happened since has been in response to that demand.

Representing himself tonight, Mr Burke opposed the school’s application, arguing it was in breach of his constitutional rights and his right to religious freedom and expression.

However, counsel insisted his ongoing presence at the school “is causing severe disruption for staff and students.”

The school alleges the principal has had “to close doors” in order to stop Mr Burke from entering.

Mr Burke insisted the board’s actions have stemmed from his opposition to go along with transgenderism – something he said is “damaging to children.”

He rejected, in a sworn statement, claims that his showing up at the school is causing “untold difficulties, and stress for staff and students at the school.”

He went on to insist that every day since he turned up at the school, after being freed from prison, he has received “overwhelming support from parents, students and staff at the school.”

“I have conducted myself in a calm, measured, reasonable, and respectful manner in my conduct at the school, and my interaction with others at the school,” Mr Burke said – adding that he only talks to pupils if they speak to him first.

He said that despite being “warned not to talk to me” outside the school, students have continued to encourage him.  One student told him to “stay strong,” and said: “I agree with what you are doing, sir,” he claims.

He says others have shown support for his views and have shared the belief that the school was “totally wrong” in its action against Burke.

In July, after the legal costs were awarded to the school, Mr Burke said paying the fees as ordered would represent a form of punishment for his religious beliefs.

“These proceedings have been initiated against me because I took a stand on my religious belief, I stand by my actions in speaking up, and for the court to now ask me to pay something is punishing me for that religious belief,” he told the High Court judge.

Along with damages and legal fees, Mr Burke has been ordered by the High Court to pay a daily fine of €700 for turning up at the school.

Mr Burke has also brought forward a challenge against the panel appointed to hear his appeal against his sacking by Wilson’s Hospital School, with judgement pending.

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