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.

File photo of Enoch Burke Sasko Lazarov/
Enoch Burke

Enoch Burke must pay Wilson's Hospital School for legal costs, High Court rules

The school will be at large to take what steps it wishes, including the sequestering of Burke’s assets, to enforce the fines from 23 March.

THE HIGH COURT has ruled that Enoch Burke must pay Wilson Hospital school’s for legal costs it has incurred for motions brought in the ongoing legal battle between the parties.

Mr Justice Brian O’Moore, in awarding the school its costs of the two pre-trial motions, also said that Burke’s averment that the teacher has at all times conducted himself in a proper manner during the proceedings was “self-praise that beggars belief”.

In his ruling, Mr Justice O’Moore said the school was entitled to its costs for having to bring contempt proceedings against Burke after he resumed re-attending at the school premises in early January.

Burke must also pay the legal costs of his unsuccessful application to stay the full High Court hearing of main issues of dispute between the parties until the Court of Appeal had ruled on his appeal against the injunctions granted against him last year, requiring him to stay away from the school, the judge said.

The full hearing of the action is scheduled for later this month.

The judge further ruled that the €700-a-day fine imposed by the court on the Co Mayo teacher for his on-going contempt is to remain in place. That fine currently stands at over €30,000.

In his judgement Mr Justice O’Moore said he was “crystallising” the level of the daily fine rather than increasing or reducing it.

He said that from 23 March onwards the school was at large to take what steps it wishes, including the sequestering of Burke’s assets, to enforce the fines.

Burke will be at risk of such measures for as long as it takes for the fines to be paid, the judge said.

‘No option’

He added that the school had “no option” other than bring its motion for contempt against Burke after he resumed attending at the premises after the Christmas holidays had concluded.

Burke had opposed the costs application against him.

“It would have been strange had it stood idly by while the order was being openly breached,” he said.

Having to pay the legal costs of his own “failed procedural motion” or one requiring him not to trespass on private property “in no way violates any religious beliefs,” the judge said.

The judge also said that Burke had made several submissions on the issues of costs, many of which were “quite misguided”.

Burke, he said, seems to ignore the legal reality that until the injunction is varied or set aside, it remains valid. He could have complied with that order without violating his religious beliefs, he said.

Instead, he has acted as if he can determine which Court orders are lawful, the judge said. “That is not his entitlement.”

The fact that Burke may succeed at the full trial did not insulate him for reasonability for the costs of the motions, the judge added.

Burke, the judge added, had argued the merits of the motions rather than addressing the costs considerations.

‘Utterly without justification’

Among his arguments against the costs orders were that the school had lied and its counsel was guilty of grave misconduct.

Mr Justice O’Moore said that no finding that the school’s representatives have lied has been made by the High Court, and the accusation against the school’s counsel was “utterly without justification”.

Any alleged infirmity in the school’s evidence, can be raised in the full trial of the matter, the judge said.

The judge said that Burke had described his own behaviour during the proceedings as “at all times having conducted himself in a proper manner in these proceedings”.

“This self-praise beggars belief,” he said adding that “there is much to be said about Mr Burke’s behaviour, but it may be sufficient to observe that a person who has refused (on utterly spurious grounds) to comply with a Court order for some six months has not behaved properly”.


Mr Justice O’Moore added that he was taking note of Burke’s “baseless traducing of other judges and his conduct in disrupting two sittings of the chancery court”.

The judge said there was a dispute between Burke and the school over whether the teacher’s presence at the school’s campus was causing considerable disruption.

This was not a matter that could be resolved at this stage of the proceedings, however the judge noted that the fact the Gardaí felt it appropriate to arrest Burke on the school premises did not suggest that his presence on the grounds is “particularly helpful”.

In relation to the stay application the judge said that it was “difficult to see” how justice would be served by ordering the school to bear the costs of “a misconceived motion” that Burke choose to bring.

Mr Justice O’Moore added in his judgement that Burke had written to the court in respect of an application by the school to correct erroneous affidavits.

The judge said this issue had been dealt with, and it was up to Burke to return before the relevant High Court judges to raise any issues he may have about these statements.

Burke’s letter, the judge said, was quite inaccurate, and did not explain why he did not take up the offer to raise his concerns with the relevant judges, the judge said.

However Burke has not returned before the judges to ask them to review the sworn statements in question, which the teacher alleges contain “false information”.

There was no requirement for the court to change its decision on this or any of its other findings in this case, Mr Justice O’Moore concluded.


Burke was jailed for 108 days for contempt of High Court orders granted last September restraining him from attending at the school following his suspension from his teaching post.

He claims he was wrongfully suspended by the school because of his objections to the school’s directions to refer to a student who wishes to transition by a different name and pronouns.

He claims this is in breach of his constitutional rights, and his religious beliefs which he says oppose “transgenderism”.

The school sought orders from the court last year when Burke continued to attend the school after it had placed him on paid administrative leave pending a disciplinary process.

That process was based on a report by then-principal, Niamh McShane, which concerned, among other things, Burke’s publicly voiced opposition to direction from her asking teachers to address the student by a new name and to use they/them pronouns.

Following a disciplinary hearing in January the school’s board of management decided to dismiss Burke from his position.
That decision has been appealed by Burke.

Earlier this month the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal against the High Court injunctions granted last September. This resulted in chaotic scenes with members of An Garda Síochána having to physically remove Burke and several members of his family from the courtroom after they interrupted the court while it was delivering its decision.

Aodhan O Faolain