Enoch Burke says a “gross injustice” is being done as he remains in jail

Judge refuses order

Jailed schoolteacher, Enoch Burke, has told the High Court that he believes he is a victim of a “gross injustice”.

Mr Burke failed in his bid to be released from Mountjoy prison after Ms Justice Eileen Roberts refused his application for an injunction seeking to restrain Wilson Hospital School from continuing his suspension.

The secondary school teacher was suspended from the Church of Ireland school on August 24th after an escalating dispute arose regarding the school’s instruction that a transgender student be addressed as “they”.

When Mr Burke refused to accept the paid suspension, the school sought an injunction seeking to prevent him continuing to attend the school. He was jailed on September 5th for refusing to obey that injunction.

Mr Burke, an evangelical Christian from Castlebar, told the High Court yesterday that he believed: “This case is absolutely about transgenderism. Nothing could be clearer.”

He claimed that his suspension was contrary to articles of the Irish Constitution which protected freedom of conscience and the free practice of religion.

He also asked the court for a declaration that his suspension from teaching at the school was “unfair, unjust and unlawful”, alleging that it had been granted because the facts had been presented in an unfair manner.

He said that “omissions” in a report used as a basis for the suspension was used “to portray me as a monster”.

Central to that claim is the school’s allegation that Mr Burke questioned the then school principal in an unacceptable way about the direction issued to all teachers to address a student using the ‘they’ pronoun instead of ‘he’.

Addressing that allegation Mr Burke countered: “I asked her a meek and mild question at the dinner.”

However, the judge said the school teacher was “seeking to re-run” the arguments made at the committal hearing and refused the orders sought by Mr Burke which would have, she said, have the effect of lifting the injunction obtained by the school. She said that Mr Burke’s claims about the lawfulness of the suspension would be dealt with at the disciplinary hearing.

After he was refused the orders, the judge said that Mr Burke could purge his contempt, meaning that he would undertake to comply with the injunction.

“I cannot do that, judge,” Mr Burke said in reply, adding that he felt that would mean he was giving into “something wrong”.

“I do think it a gross injustice that the plaintiff [Wilson’s Hospital] and the court is seeking to deny me my religious beliefs. I go back to jail as a law-abiding subject of the State but a subject of God first.”

Several of Mr Burke’s family, including his parents, and his sister Ammi and brother Isaac were in court to support him, as were some 30 other people including some of those who have protested outside Mountjoy calling for the release of Mr Burke.

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