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Enoch Burke Sam Boal

Garda Ombudsman given audio recording of 'melee' that broke out at Enoch Burke court hearing

Both Simeon Burke and Ammi Burke have made a complaint to Gsoc about their treatment by gardaí.

THE GARDA OMBUDSMAN has been granted access to audio recordings of a court “melee” that broke out during a hearing related to Enoch Burke’s dispute with Wilson’s Hospital School.

Delivering the judgement of the three-judge Court of Appeal today, Justice John Edwards said that “disruptive and disrespectful conduct by some persons attending court” on 7 March 2023 had caused the court to rise and abandon delivery of its judgement. 

He said that conduct continued after the court had risen and “represented an uninterrupted continuum of unacceptable behaviour”.

He said that the behaviour of those in court should be regarded as “part of the proceedings before the court on that day” and therefore the recording of that conduct “constitutes a contemporaneous record of those proceedings”. 

Enoch Burke, who was brought to court by prison officers from Mountjoy Prison, had stated that the recordings amounted to “covert surveillance” and to release them would be a breach of his privacy rights and legislation protecting personal data. 

The court rejected Burke’s arguments, saying he had shown no evidence that he was engaged in any private or confidential conversation at the time. The court also pointed out that personal data may be used for the prevention, detection and prosecution of crimes.

The judge had also warned before delivering judgement that if there were “any interruption from any quarter”, the court would rise and the judgement would be delivered electronically.

Burke was a respondent before the Court of Appeal in an application by the Garda Siochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) who sought access to digital audio recordings of a previous appeal court hearing involving Burke on 7 March last year. 

During those proceedings, a “melee” arose when members of the Burke family began shouting and were forcibly removed by gardai. 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.

Both Simeon Burke and Ammi Burke have made a complaint to Gsoc about their treatment by gardai on that occasion and Gsoc is carrying out an investigation into alleged assault causing harm by members of the force. 

As part of its investigation, Gsoc asked the Court of Appeal to release recordings of what happened after the court had risen. 

It has previously been explained that an “ambient” recording system remains on at all times, even when the court is not sitting. It exists in case the official audio recording system fails or is inadvertently switched off.

After Justice Edwards granted Gsoc’s application, Burke rose to say that he was “appalled” by the court’s decision. He also asked for access to the ambient recordings that are to be released to Gsoc, which was granted by Justice Edwards.