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.

Leah Farrell/
Enoch Burke

Enoch Burke's bid to halt appeal hearing over his dismissal to be contested

Burke claims one of the members of the appeal panel would be biased against him.

ENOCH BURKE’S BID for an injunction restraining the hearing of his appeal against his dismissal from his job as a teacher at Wilson’s Hospital Secondary school is to be contested, the High Court has been told.

Burke was dismissed by the school’s board of management earlier this year, for alleged gross misconduct.

He denies that claim and his appeal against his dismissal was due to be heard by a three-person Teacher’s Disciplinary Appeal Panel last week.

However, that hearing did not proceed after the Co Mayo teacher obtained a temporary High Court injunction restraining the Appeal Panel from considering the matter.

Ms Justice Eileen Roberts granted him the order after finding that he had raised a fair issue to be tried.

When the case returned before the High Court today, Padraic Lyons SC, with Hugh McDowell BL for the Appeal Panel, told Mr Justice Brian O’Moore his client intends to oppose Burke’s bid to extend the injunction.

Counsel said that Burke had raised two issues in his application.

The first related to an alleged failure to provide of certain information contained in a video clip to the panel and Burke by the school.

Counsel said that that there had been a development on that issue, and it was hoped that discrete issue could be resolved between the parties.


Counsel said that the second ground upon which Burke seeks to restrain the appeal is over his fear or apprehension that one of the panel members, ASTI General Secretary Kieran Christie, would be biased against the teacher.

Counsel said that the panel is contesting that claim but required time to fully respond to Burke’s claims.

Representing himself, Burke said that the matter was of some urgency.

He had no objections to the Appeal Panel’s request for time to respond to his application and added that he awaited contact from the respondent in relation to the issue concerning the video clip.

Mr Justice O’Moore said that he hoped the matter could be heard before the end of the July, when the current legal term ends.

The judge put a timetable in place for the exchange of legal documents and provisionally fixed the hearing of Burke’s bid to have the injunction put in place pending the outcome of the full hearing of the dispute to a date in late July.

The judge also said that the interim injunction granted last week had expired and was to be replaced with undertakings, in the same terms as the injunction, given by the panel.

In his action against the three members of the panel, Sean Ó Longáin, Kieran Christie, and Jack Cleary, Burke claims the proposed hearing is flawed and should be halted.

He claims that Christie, who is the union representative on the panel, should have, but has declined to, recused himself from hearing the matter.

Burke alleges that it is unacceptable that Christie should be considered as a suitable person to hear the appeal.

Christie, Burke claims, is supportive of a policy that promotes the recognition of transgender students in Irish schools.

He claims that under Christie’s leadership the ASTI has “unequivocally” advised schools to accept and use ‘transgender’ pronouns.

This, he said, is important given that his dispute with the school centres around his refusal to comply with a direction from the school, which he said goes against his Christian beliefs, to refer to a student by a different name and to use the pronoun ‘they’.

WhatsApp message

He also bases his application on the ground that neither he, nor the panel have been provided with an audio video clip contained on a WhatsApp message alleged exchanged between the Wilson Hospital’s former principal Niamh McShane and the chairman of the school’s board Mr John Rogers.

He claimed the message was a recording of a school service in 2022, where he publicly outlined his objections to a direction by the school to call a student at the school by a different name and the pronoun ‘they’.

He claims that clip is important as the school placed enormous weight on what happened at that event when it commenced the disciplinary proceedings against him that resulted in his dismissal.

He says that both he and the panel should have been given it by the school’s board in advance of the hearing.

The failure to provide that clip amounts to a breach of fair procedures and natural justice, he claims.

The school is a notice party to the application but the court heard that it does not intend to take part in the proceedings.

Burke’s dismissal from the Co Westmeath school came after he was found by Wilsons Hospital’s board of management to have engaged in behaviour that amounted to gross misconduct.

He rejects that finding, and claims that his dismissal, and related court proceedings against him, are over his objection to ‘transgenderism’.

He appealed against the school board’s decision made last January to dismiss him from his position as a German and History teacher at the school.

The application is the latest part of an ongoing legal battle that commenced in late August of last year when the school obtained an injunction restraining Burke, a fundamentalist Christian, from attending at its premises pending the outcome of disciplinary hearing against him.

Following his refusal to comply with the court’s order Mr Burke was jailed for contempt of court and spent 108 days in Mountjoy Prison.

He was released shortly before Christmas and was warned about his future conduct.

However, following the Christmas break he returned to the school premises, resulting in the High Court imposing a daily fine of €700 on him while he continues to breach the court order.

The school’s decision to suspend him was subsequently upheld by the High Court, and Burke also lost his appeal against that Court’s decision to grant the junctions against him.

Aodhan O Faolain