Judge orders Enoch Burke be jailed for contempt of court order – The Irish Times & More News Headlines


A High Court judge has directed that teacher Enoch Burke be jailed for contempt of court orders restraining him attending at the Co Westmeath school where he is employed.

Mr Justice Michael Quinn ruled that Mr Burke was in contempt of the order over each working day since it was made last Tuesday and noted the teacher had said he intended to continue to attend at the school.

After the judge’s ruling, Mr Burke, representing himself, said he could not purge his contempt of something he considered to be in breach of his Christian beliefs.

Mr Burke had earlier told the court he loves his job and students and wants to teach and could not obey the court order. He said he and other school staff were directed by the principal earlier this year “to call a boy a girl” but his conscience, Christian beliefs and the school’s own ethos prevented him doing so.

He had been placed on unpaid administrative leave by the school pending a disciplinary process arising from a report by the school principal concerning his public interaction with her at a school event last June.

That interaction involved Mr Burke objecting to a direction by the principal to staff to call a pupil who is transitioning, by a different name and to refer to them as “they” rather than “he” or “she”.

The school last Tuesday obtained interim orders from the High Court restraining Mr Burke from attending there.

When he continued to attend, it initiated an application to have him attached and brought before the court to answer charges of contempt of the order.

Gardaí attended at the school on Monday morning where Mr Burke was present and the matter came before Mr Justice Quinn later on Monday.

Mr Burke, who represented himself and whose father Sean and brother Isaac,were in court, said he was opposing the contempt application and his suspension was unreasonable, unjust, unlawful and in breach of procedures.

Rosemary Mallon, for the school board of management said, in view of Mr Burke’s position, her client was “with reluctance” and “with regret” proceeding with the committal application.

She said Mr Burke was clearly in contempt and the school was seeking a coercive rather than punitive order as the aim was simply to have Mr Burke comply with the order, returnable to Wednesday, and not attend at the school pending further order.

Mr Burke said he could not obey the order not to attend which he said was made after he had been directed by the school “to call a boy a girl” which, he said, was “manifestly wrong” and something he could not in conscience do.

Sticking by his view in male and female could not amount to a charge of gross misconduct which was the only thing that could form the basis of his suspension from the school, he said.

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