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File photo of Enoch Burke.
Enoch Burke

Enoch Burke appears at Westmeath school despite High Court order

Gardaí said they are aware of the matter, but that they have ‘no role at this time’.

TEACHER ENOCH BURKE appeared today at the Co Westmeath school where he is employed, in defiance of a High Court order.

Last August, Burke was suspended on full pay by Wilson’s Hospital School over allegations of misconduct made against him.

As part of the terms of his suspension he was directed to stay away from the school until the disciplinary process had been completed.

In response to a query from The Journal about Burke’s appearance at the school today despite a court order being in place, a garda spokesperson said: “An Garda Síochána are aware of the matters as highlighted.

“As these matters refer to a civil order, An Garda Síochána has no role at this time.

“The role of An Garda Síochána is to ensure peace and public order is maintained, and no criminal offence is committed.”

Meanwhile, Wilson’s Hospital School said it had no comment to make.

Photographs and videos shared on social media showed Burke at the school – he made no comment when exiting the grounds by car.

Burke claims the row centres around his objection to describing a student at the school, who wishes to transition, as ‘they’.

He had told a court during his contempt of court hearing that he believed he was put behind bars because of his religious objections to “transgenderism”.

The school claimed that he refused to comply with its direction, and obtained a High Court injunction preventing Burke from attending and attempting to teach any classes at the school.

Arising out of his failure to comply with the court order, he was deemed to be in contempt of court and was incarcerated at Mountjoy Prison for three months.

On 21 December, the High Court ruled that Burke should be released from Mountjoy Prison, even though he had not purged his contempt.

Mr Justice O’Moore ordered that Burke be released from prison, stating that this was one of those “rare cases” where a coercive imprisonment should stop, for the moment.

Similar orders had been made in other cases where persons who had spent a period in prison over their failure to obey court were released without purging their contempt, the judge said.

The judge added that the school could come back to court and seek Burke’s attachment if he does not comply with the order to stay away from the school.

Burke was to remain at liberty until any further court order is made imprisoning him.

The only threat to his continued freedom, the judge said, will arise if he again breaches any existing order of the court.

Burke’s appearance at the school comes a day after he sought a High Court injunction preventing the school from holding a disciplinary meeting where allegations of misconduct against him will be considered.

Burke appeared before a vacation sitting of the High Court yesterday, where he secured permission from Ms Justice Siobhan Stack, on an ex-parte basis, to serve short notice of the injunction application on Wilson’s Hospital School.

The judge made the matter returnable to 11 January, before Mr Justice Brian O’Moore, when the new legal term commences.

- With additional reporting from Aodhan O Faolain

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