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File photo - Ammi Burke and Martina Burke Leah Farrell/
Enoch Burke

Enoch Burke's mother and sister removed from Court of Appeal for shouting at barristers and judge

Enoch Burke had been making submissions to the court via video-link from Mountjoy prison.

ENOCH BURKE’S MOTHER Martina Burke and his sister Ammi were removed from the Court of Appeal today by three gardaí after they entered the courtroom and started shouting at barristers and the judge.

Enoch Burke had been making submissions to the court via video-link from Mountjoy prison when his sister and mother burst into the court.

They shouted at counsel for the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSoc), Eoin Lawlor BL, demanding that he leave the court.

The Burkes said that the court had ordered the parties involved in the application only to attend via video-link. They accused the court of “making a fool” of Enoch Burke and of corruption by allowing Lawlor to attend while Enoch was refused permission to attend in person.

When gardaí asked Ammi and Martina Burke to leave, they demanded that Lawlor also leave the room. Three gardaí then approached the Burkes to escort them from the room.

Burke, who was dismissed from his teaching position at Wilson’s Hospital School for alleged gross misconduct, has been in Mountjoy since 8 September after the school’s Board of Management asked the court for orders committing him to prison over his deliberate failure to comply with a permanent injunction to stay away from the school.

The teacher says his dispute with the school revolves around his refusal to comply with an alleged 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. He has also launched an appeal against his dismissal.

Prior to the interruption, the court had been considering an application by GSoc for access to recordings made during a “melee” when Enoch Burke was previously before the Court of Appeal on 7 March of this year.

Arising from that, Enoch’s brother Simeon Burke (24) was arrested and later convicted of an offence under the Public Order Act for engaging in threatening, insulting and abusive words and behaviour on or about the Four Courts, Inns Quay.

The court has previously given GSoc and the Director of Public Prosecutions access to recordings from when the court was in session but not after the court rose following the disturbance by members of Burke’s family.

Mr Justice John Edwards today said that he is not prepared to make a decision on whether the court has jurisdiction to issue those recordings by himself and adjourned the matter to 15 January when three judges will be available to hear submissions on the issue.

Prior to the interruption, Burke had submitted to the court that the ambient DAR recordings are illegal and that the court should reject GSoc’s application without sitting as a court of three. He described the recordings, which continue even when the court is not in session, as an “excessive intrusion on liberty” and a “violation of the constitutional right to privacy of the individuals being recorded”.

Following the interruption by Ammi and Martina Burke, Mr Justice Edwards said it was “most regrettable that we are yet again interrupted by members of the Burke family”.

When Enoch Burke tried to speak, the judge asked for his microphone to be muted before he adjourned the proceedings.

The Burkes have lodged complaints with GSoc over their treatment by gardaí at the hearing in March.

As part of its investigation, GSoc has applied for “ambient recordings” that record what is happening in the higher courts.

Mr Justice John Edwards at a previous sitting of the Court of Appeal explained that the purpose of the ambient system is to record proceedings in case somebody forgets to turn on the main Digital Audio Recording (DAR) system.

He said the ambient system, if it was working, may have recorded what was said after the court had risen when the DAR system would have been turned off.

At a previous hearing, Mr Justice Edwards refused the application but said he was “not closing the door” to a further application for the recordings.

There are, he said, concerns for data protection rights of those present in court and there is a question over who has jurisdiction over the recordings.

Mr Justice Edwards said the court may not be the data controller when a recording is made while the court is not sitting and he suggested the Courts Service rather than the court may be the appropriate data controller.

Submissions from Enoch Burke and GSoc on those issues will be heard by the court during the hearing in January.