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High Court

Enoch Burke and sister Ammi removed from High Court by gardaí

The judge later criticised the Burkes’ action and said the best way to deal with their disruption, which lasted for two hours, was for “the court to get on with our business”.

LAST UPDATE | 10 Feb 2023

SIBLINGS ENOCH AND Ammi Burke were physically removed from a courtroom by members of An Garda Síochána for interrupting proceedings before a High Court judge.

Garda intervention was required when the siblings refused to leave the courtroom, after they were deemed by the presiding judge Mr Justice Brian O’Moore to be interrupting the court’s busy list.

The judge later criticised the Burkes’ actions and said the best way to deal with their disruption, which lasted for two hours, was for “the court to get on with our business”.

The Burkes, who were monitored by several gardaí following their removal from the courtroom, left the Four Courts around 2.15pm, shortly after Mr Justice Brian O’Moore had risen for the day.

The judge sat through his lunch hour to clear the backlog created by the disruption.

Unscheduled appearance

While Burke’s ongoing action with Wilson’s Hospital School was not due to be heard today, the Co Mayo man sought to raise an aspect of the case before Justice O’Moore, the High Court judge in charge of the chancery list.

Burke said he wished to raise his concerns over the school’s application to correct certain statements made in a document it is relying on as part of its ongoing legal action against him.

The matter had been due back before the High Court some weeks ago but had been put back to allow the sides time to make adequate preparations for the hearing of the application.

Burke said that the court had accepted that the matter was urgent and that four affidavits have been sworn on behalf of the school in respect of the application.

He said the court had emailed him about the matter some weeks ago but he had heard nothing since and was very concerned about this as he did not know when the matter would be back before the court.

No listed

In reply, Justice O’Moore said that the court was conscious of the matter and had intended to contact Burke and the school regarding further directions in respect of the application to correct the statements.

Noting the lawyers for the school were not present and that the matter was not listed before the court on today, the judge said he would email updated directions to both the school and Burke.

Out of courtesy to the parties, the judge said that they would be emailed “at the same time”, which the court expected would be sometime later today.

The judge said he was not going to deal with the matter nor any submissions Burke wanted to make on this issue as the court had a busy list to deal with.

However, Burke said this was “extraordinary” and continued to voice his concerns.

Justice O’Moore then rose from the bench.

Burke, accompanied by his sister Ammi, was then asked to leave the courtroom by Courts staff and a member of An Garda Síochána but refused to leave.

The siblings did not accept that they were being in any way disruptive to the court.

The judge did not return to the bench and shortly afterwards the court registrar announced that the call over of cases had been adjourned until 12.30pm.

When the judge returned to the bench Mr Burke rose to his feet and insisted on re-mentioning matters as he had not finished saying what he wanted to say.

Mr Justice O’Moore said he would not hear Mr Burke any further on the matter, repeating that he would be emailed later on today, and directed member of An Garda Siochana in the courtroom to remove Mr Burke for interrupting the court’s business.

Both Mr Burke, and his sister Ammi continued to criticise the court, which rose again to allow the Gardaí to remove the Burkes.

Mr Burke was physically removed by two members.

His sister remained in court for a time, claiming that the judge had fled the courtroom, and what was happening was “a disgrace”.

Ms Burke repeated her criticisms of the judge for some time, in a courtroom packed with lawyers, before she too was physically removed by members of the Gardaí.

Ms Burke removal was delayed until a female Garda arrived in court, who assisted in the solicitor’s removal from the court.

Following their removal, the court resumed its business, with the two siblings remaining outside the door of the courtroom, where they continued to criticise the Gardaí and the judge.

Rule of law

Following the resumption, after a delay of almost two hours Mr Justice O’Moore said that the court had deal with a large number of cases on Friday involving matters of great importance to a great many ordinary people.

The court he said had been disturbed by two individuals who felt entitled to turn up unannounced, with no notice to the other side.

He said they seemed to feel entitled to make groundless complaints and deliver themselves of abusive comments and said the best response was to get through the business the court was here to do.

He said people frequently talked about the importance of the rule of law.

This he added can sometimes sound “tremendously pompous”.

However, in the real world, it was absolutely critical that people who wanted to go before a court should not be prevented from doing so by activities that shouldn’t take place.

Mr Justice O’Moore said that many other parties had waited patiently in court for their cases to be heard while the operation of the list was disrupted.

He said the court would get on with its business and that is what he felt in a position to say “about the behaviour in court for the last number of hours”.


Mr Burke and the school have been engaged in a court battle after he claims he was wrongfully suspended, before being dismissed from his job, and his constitutional rights breached.

The school suspended, and then following a disciplinary process purportedly dismissed the teacher due to the German and History teacher’s alleged misconduct.

Arising out of his refusal to comply with a High Court order granted last September, Mr Burke was jailed for 108 days for contempt.

However, he has continued to attend the school’s campus resulting in Mr Justice O’Moore imposing a €700 a day fine on him.

Last appearance

In the most recent application before the court, lawyers for the school’s board of management said it wanted to correct a statement about a meeting held last year at Wilson’s Hospital concerning the wishes of a student who wants to transition. It had initially said the student’s parents had attended but now wanted to correct the record to read that only one of their parents was present. 

In addition, counsel said, that it had been stated that the meeting had also been attended by the school’s then principal Niamh McShane.

This was also inaccurate, the school said.

Two other staff members were present for the duration of that meeting while the principal, who was aware of the meeting was only in attendance for a brief period, the school added. 

Mr Burke has been informed of the school’s application to correct the inaccuracies before the matter returns before the court.

Mr Burke’s appeal against various High Court decisions made against him is due to be heard by the Court of Appeal later this month.

A review by the High Court of the ongoing contempt is due to take place at a later, yet to be specified date.

Aodhan O Faolain