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Enoch Burke Sasko Lazarov/
High Court

Enoch Burke still receiving teacher's salary while in Mountjoy Prison, court hears

The imprisoned teacher has not paid any of the fines or costs imposed on him, a High Court judge has said.

ENOCH BURKE IS still receiving his teacher’s salary while in prison and has not paid any of the fines or costs imposed on him by the courts, a sitting of the High Court heard today.

The imprisoned teacher is set to remain in Mountjoy Prison after he again refused to comply with a High Court order to stay away from Wilson’s Hospital School in Co Westmeath.

Burke was brought from Mountjoy Prison to the High Court this morning, where Justice Mark Sanfey reviewed his ongoing refusal to comply with orders made last July.

Burke has spent more than 275 days in prison after the school’s board asked the court to jail the teacher over his deliberate failure to comply with a permanent injunction restraining him from attending at the school. 

After Burke refused to give undertakings to comply with the orders, the judge said that, with some regret, he saw no reason to alter the order committing Burke to prison.

In reply, Burke said the court was asking him “to do something wrong”.

The judge said he was adjourning the matter to a date in late March to further review what is a “profoundly unsatisfactory situation”.

The judge said that when the matter next returns, the court wants the school’s lawyers to make submissions on possible alternatives to Burke’s ongoing imprisonment, including the sequestration of the teacher’s assets.

The judge said that Burke continues to be paid his salary pending his appeal against the school’s decision to dismiss him and is being imprisoned at a cost to taxpayers.

He has not paid any of the fines imposed on him by the High Court last year, nor paid any of the costs orders made against him by the courts in favour of the school, the judge said.

Burke described the court’s action as “a mockery” and begged the court to deal with what he described as “lies” that had resulted in his imprisonment and suspension from his job.

Burke said that he has spent almost a year behind bars because he was being punished for his religious beliefs, his opposition to ‘transgenderism’ and his refusal to comply with a direction from the school to address a student by a different pronoun.

During his appearance before the court, Burke attempted to raise issues about a report by the school’s former Principal Ms Niamh McShane in 2022, which led to his suspension, which he argues underpins his ongoing imprisonment.

He said that the courts were not properly dealing with the report which he says contains “lies” and accused the courts of covering up the truth.

On several occasions, Justice Sanfey told Burke that the points he wished to make on the report, nor the decisions of other courts, were not something he could entertain, and could be aired at different forums.

The judge said the court’s function today was to see if Burke would comply with the order to stay away from the school.

In reply to Burke’s demands that the court address the report and that members of the bench and bar had been telling lies, the judge told the teacher to “watch his language”.

However, Justice Sanfey later acknowledged that, for most of the proceedings, Burke had addressed the court in a civil and respectful manner.

The school, represented by Alex White SC, said it would address the issues raised by the judge and repeated its stance that while it does not want to see Burke in jail, it wants the orders of the court to be obeyed.

Counsel also told the court that the school wanted to make it clear that its position is that Burke is “entitled to hold whatever views he wishes”.

The judge said he noted the school’s position but that he could not allow court orders to be flouted.

The board claimed that Burke had presented at Wilson’s Hospital School campus every day when the current school year commenced last August.

His presence at the school had caused “severe disruption for staff and students” the board claimed.

In September, the Court found that Mr Burke had “flagrantly breached” the July orders and committed him to prison “indefinitely,” until he purges his contempt.

Last December, when his contempt was last up for review, Burke also declined to purge his contempt and to agree to comply with the order to stay away from the school.

The teacher denies the claims against him and says that his constitutional rights were breached by the school.

Aodhan O Faolain