Advertisement

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.

Enoch Burke Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie
Enoch Burke

School seeks to amend court documents used as part of its ongoing action against Enoch Burke

Burke attended the school again this morning.

LAST UPDATE | Jan 27th 2023, 10:50 PM

WILSON’S HOSPITAL SECONDARY School has told the High Court that it wishes to correct certain statements made in a document it is relying on as part of its ongoing legal action against teacher Enoch Burke.

Burke and the school have been engaged in a court battle after he claims he was wrongfully suspended, before being dismissed from his job last week, and his constitutional rights breached over his objections to referring to a student at the school who wishes to transition as ‘they’ rather than ‘he’.

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

In a brief application before Mr Justice Conor Dignam at the High Court this afternoon Alex White SC, with Rosemary Mallon Bl for the school said that two factual inaccuracies in documents sworn on behalf of the school had come to light since yesterday evening.

The inaccuracies were contained in a statement supporting the school’s case against Burke that was sworn by the chairperson of the school’s board of management John Rogers.

While these matters needed to be addressed by way of a corrective affidavit, counsel said that the issues in question do not affect any of the orders previously granted by the court, including last September’s injunction requiring Burke to stay away and not attempt to teach at the Co Westmeath school.

Burke was not present in court today.

He was not made aware of the school’s application in advance, counsel said.

Counsel said that the matters that need to be addressed by the school are that it had previously stated that a meeting last year at Wilson’s Hospital concerning the wishes of a transitioning student had been attended by both of the student’s parents.

This is incorrect counsel said, as the meeting had only been attended by one of the student’s parents.

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.

Counsel said that 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.

However, counsel said that the school will fully inform Burke of its application to correct the inaccuracies before the matter returns before the court.

Mr Justice Dignam, who said it was right that the school seek to correct these errors in the manner proposed, adjourned the application to Tuesday’s sitting of the court.

Deadline

The school’s application came as the deadline given to Burke by Mr Justice Brian O’Moore to purge his contempt or face being fined €700 for every day he refuses to comply with the court order to stay away from the school passed.

Burke, who attended at the school this morning, did not make any formal contact with the court indicating that he would comply.

In his judgement yesterday, Mr Justice O’Moore said that Burke, who was purportedly dismissed from the school last week following a disciplinary hearing, had until this afternoon to decide if he wished to comply with the order or be fined.

The judge said that a daily fine was “the correct response” to Burke’s ongoing contempt.

Burke, he said, had “made it plain that he will continue to disobey the order” made by the High Court last September.

The level of the fine “should persuade Mr Burke to end his utterly pointless attendance at a school that does not want him at its property”, the judge said.

If the fine does not have the desired effect, it can always be increased, the judge added.
The judge agreed with the school that returning Burke to prison was “not immediately attractive”.

The court also said that it did not believe that the sequestration of Burke’s assets would result in the teacher’s compliance with the court’s order.

Burke was jailed for 108 days last September arising out of his failure to stay away from the school, before being released without purging his contempt before Christmas.

Wilson’s Hospital had returned to court seeking orders to either sequestering or removing Burke’s assets or fine him over his repeated refusal to comply with the order since the start of the new school term on 5 January last.

Burke had opposed the school’s application, claiming he has done nothing wrong, and says the granting of such a “preposterous” and manifestly flawed order against would breach his constitutional rights.

He has also criticised the school’s decision to instigate the disciplinary proceedings against him, which he claims centres around the school’s request to call a student by a different name, and as “they”, which he said amounts to him participating in transgenderism.

He said that the orders against him were an attempt to criminalise his religious beliefs including his opposition to transgenderism.

The contempt of court ruling and the issue of legal costs in the dispute are due to be reviewed by the court on 10 February next.

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

Author
Aodhan O Faolain