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Enoch Burke outside Wilsons Hospital School on 28 August Sasko Lazarov/
High Court

Fresh court application over Enoch Burke's alleged ongoing refusal to stay away from school

The judge adjourned the matter to Friday’s vacation sitting of the court.

A FRESH APPLICATION has been brought before the High Court that could see teacher Enoch Burke returned to prison over his alleged ongoing refusal to stay away from Wilson’s Hospital School in Co Westmeath.

During today’s vacation sitting of the High Court, lawyers representing the school’s Board of Management said its client is seeking orders for Burke’s attachment and committal to prison over his alleged refusal to comply with a permanent injunction granted by Mr Justice Alexander Owens earlier this year.

That order restrains Burke from attending at Wilson’s Hospital, unless he is given express permission to do so by the school authorities.

Rosemary Mallon Bl for the board told Ms Justice Emily Egan that Burke has attended at the school, where he was suspended and ultimately dismissed from, every day since the new school year commenced in late August.

Mallon said that his attendance both “outside and inside the school” was in breach of the permanent injunction granted by Mr Justice Owens.

“The terms of that order could not be clearer,” counsel said, adding that Mr Burke has been fully aware of and served with a copy of the orders handed down by Mr Justice Owens.

His ongoing presence at the school “is causing severe disruption for staff and students”, counsel said.

A large part of the school principal, Frank Milling, and his staff’s working day is taken up dealing with Burke’s presence at Wilson’s Hospital, counsel said.

On occasions, Milling has had “to close doors” to prevent Burke from entering the school, counsel added.


Counsel said that it was “with great reluctance” that the board has returned to court 12 months on from its initial application against Burke.

Counsel said that following his suspension in August 2022, Burke had failed to comply with a court order against him last year requiring him to stay away from the school.

That resulted in his incarceration in Mountjoy Prison for several months.

He was released shortly before Christmas, without purging his contempt, nor offering an undertaking.

He again started attending at the school after the holidays, and the High Court imposed a daily fine of €700 on Burke, counsel said.

However, that step had no impact on Burke’s behaviour, and he continued to attend at the school until the end of the school year last May, counsel said.

Counsel said that Burke has also appealed the decision to dismiss him from his position as a German and History teacher.

Other options were considered, including holding discussions with gardaí, and hiring private security personnel.

However, these options were deemed not to be feasible for a variety of reasons, Mallon said.


In the circumstances the school’s board was seeking to have Burke brought before the court to answer what it claims is his ongoing contempt of the injunction restraining him from attending at the school.

Ms Justice Egan, who described the lengthy proceedings between the school and Mr Burke as “a saga” said she was satisfied to grant the school board permission, on an ex-parte basis, to serve short notice of the application on Burke.

The judge directed that Burke be served personally with the attachment and committal application and adjourned the matter to Friday’s vacation sitting of the court.

The board’s application is the latest in what has been a high-profile legal battle arising out of Burke suspension and dismissal from the Co Westmeath school.

In his judgement last May, Mr Justice Owens said the school was entitled to suspend Burke in August 2022, to a permanent injunction prohibiting him from attending at its premises, and damages of €15,000 for his continuing trespass at the school’s campus in Multyfarnham in Co Westmeath.

The judge said the school’s decision to suspend Burke was “rational and reasonable” after he had voiced his strong objections to a request by the school to refer to a student who at the time allegedly wished to transition and use a different name and pronoun.

The teacher claimed that such a direction was a breach of his rights, and his religious beliefs.

The court heard evidence of Burke’s behaviour at a school event in June, when he publicly voiced his objections to transgender issues, and at subsequent meetings held in August 2022 where his behaviour had been discussed.

Burke, who denied any wrongdoing, and had brought a counterclaim claiming that the disciplinary proceedings against him after he voiced his objections to a direction by the school to refer to a student at the school by a different name and pronoun, are unlawful and in breach of his rights.

However, his counterclaim was dismissed by the court.

Burke has brought a challenge against the three-person panel of persons appointed to hear his appeal against his dismissal from his teaching position.

Judgement is awaited in those separate proceedings against the panel.

Comments are closed as legal proceedings are ongoing. 

Aodhan O Faolain