We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Pic: Leah Farrell
Four Courts

Enoch Burke told his legal appeal may fail after he is physically removed from courtroom again

It is the second time that Burke has been removed from the courtroom after refusing to leave.

LAST UPDATE | 13 Feb 2023

ENOCH BURKE HAS been warned that his appeal against an injunction that prevents him from attending Wilson’s Hospital School may not be entertained if he remains in contempt of court.

It came hours after Burke was again physically removed from a courtroom by Gardaí for interrupting proceedings before Mr Justice Brian O’Moore.

The President of the Court of Appeal Mr George Birmingham issued the warning to the teacher days before his appeal against various orders and a decision by the High Court last September is heard.

The appeal, which is due to proceed on Thursday, forms part of Burke’s ongoing legal dispute with the school, which dismissed him from his role last month.

Burke claims that he has been wrongfully dismissed and that he was wrongly suspended from his role.

He claims the school breached his rights after it sanctioned him because he refused to refer to a student at the school who wishes to transition by a different pronoun.

In advance of his appeal, Burke and lawyers for the Westmeath-based school were directed to appear before the Court of Appeal, comprising President of the Court George Birmingham, Mr Justice John Edwards and Ms Justice Máire Whelan.

Judge Birmingham said that he wished to make a number of points to the parties about the appeal in advance of Thursday’s hearing.

He said that the hearing of the appeal should be concluded in one day, otherwise it could take some time before the same panel of judges could be reconvened to hear the case again.

He asked the parties to reach an agreement about how time should be allocated on the day.

Remains in contempt

Birmingham also said that the court may not entertain Burke’s appeal because he remains in contempt of a court order from last September directing him to stay away from the school.

The judge said that Burke’s ongoing contempt, as well as his possible future contempt after this week’s hearing were things the court would have to take account of.

He said that a scenario in which an individual was appealing a court order, who themselves had not obeyed those orders, would be a very “imbalanced situation” and one which the court “could not countenance”.

Burke spent 108 days in Mountjoy Prison last year after he refused to purge his contempt and to stay away from the school. He was released without purging his contempt before Christmas.

He returned to the school premises for several days in January, resulting in the High Court imposing a fine of €700 for every day he remains in contempt.

Concluding his remarks, Birmingham said that the Court of Appeal did not want to hear from the parties on the issues raised by it at this point in time.

He asked both sides simply to consider and reflect on the court’s comments in advance of Thursday’s hearing, before rising for the day.

No comment was made by either lawyers for the school or for Burke, who was accompanied to the court by his parents and two of his siblings.

Physically removed

Earlier today, Mr Justice Brian O’Moore directed Gardaí to physically remove Burke and his sister Ammi from the courtroom, after the teacher disrupted the court.

Gardaí were asked to take action after the judge refused to allow Burke to raise an issue in part of his on-going legal battle with Wilson’s Hospital School.

It follows a similar intervention last Friday, when Burke and his sister Ammi were removed from the High Court for interrupting a sitting of the court.

Burke had returned to the courtroom today seeking to raise concerns over an application by the school to correct certain statements made in a document which it is relying on as part of its on-going legal action against him.

He said he was seeking clarification on directions emailed to him by the judge on Friday afternoon, after he and his sister had been removed from the courtroom.

In reply, the judge said that Burke’s case was not listed before the court, and that the teacher had neither informed the court registrar nor obtained the proper court document that would allow him to raise the matter with the court.

Burke insisted on being heard, resulting in an exchange between the judge and the Burke family that became heated.

Burke then refused to comply with the judge’s direction to not talk over him.

When the judge made it clear that the matter was not being heard, members of the Burke family were highly critical of the court.

Burke was warned several times by the judge that if he did not cease talking, he would be removed from the courtroom.

“You are not in charge of the list,” the judge told Burke, who was reminded that it was the judge’s job. However, Burke continued to speak over the judge.

Three members of an Garda Siochana subsequently removed Burke from the courtroom.

His sister Ammi Burke continued to loudly berate the judge, accusing him of treating Wilson’s Hospital School “very differently” to her brother.

The judge, noting that she is a qualified lawyer, reminded her that she has “no right of audience”.

Burke’s mother Martina Burke was also highly critical of the judge and the Gardaí.

“God knows about your wickedness,” she said, adding that the court was “corrupt”. She added that Gardaí had no right to remove her son from the courtroom.

After Enoch Burke was removed, the other family members left the court of their own accord.

Aodhan O Faolain