Enoch Burke still receiving teacher’s salary, court hears, and is to remain in Mountjoy Prison

Burke told the judge that to agree to comply with the court order would be ‘evil’

Teacher Enoch Burke is 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.

Mr Burke was brought from Mountjoy Prison to the court on Tuesday morning, when his ongoing refusal to comply with orders made last year was reviewed by Mr Justice Mark Sanfey.

After refusing to give such undertakings, the judge said that with some regret he saw no reason to alter the order committing Mr Burke to prison.

In reply to the judge, Mr Burke said the court was asking him “to do something wrong” adding that agreeing to comply with the order would be “evil.”


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 when the matter next returns, the court wanted the school’s lawyers to make submissions on possible alternatives to Mr Burke’s ongoing imprisonment, including the sequestration of the teacher’s assets.

The court heard Mr Burke continues to be paid, pending his appeal against the school’s decision to dismiss him; is being imprisoned at a cost to the taxpayer; 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.

Mr Burke however described the courts action as “a mockery”.

During his appearance before the court, Mr Burke attempted to raise issues about a report by the school’s former principal Niamh McShane in 2022, which lead 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 Mr Justice Sanfey told Mr Burke that neither the points he wished to make on the report, nor the decisions of other High Court judges were something he could entertain, and could be aired at different forums.

All the court wanted to know, and its only function was to see if Mr Burke would comply with the order to stay away from the school.

In reply to Mr 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 the judge later acknowledged that for most of the proceedings Mr 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 Mr Burke in jail, it wants the orders of the court obeyed.

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

The judge said he noted the school’s position, but could not allow a flouting of court orders.

Enoch Burke has now spent over 275 days in prison.

He was committed to Mountjoy 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 granted by the court in July.

The board claimed Mr Burke had attended at Wilson’s Hospital 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 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, Mr Burke also declined to purge his contempt and agree to comply with an order to stay away from the school.

During his first stint behind bars the Evangelical Christian spent over 100 days in Mountjoy between September and December 2022.

Following his suspension from his position at the school in August 2022 Mr Burke was sued by the school over his failure to comply with a court order requiring him to stay away from the school.

He was released in December 2022 without purging his contempt.

He again started attending at the school after the holidays, and the High Court imposed a daily fine of €700 on Mr Burke.

The teacher denies the claims against him and says his constitutional rights were breached by the school’s direction that he refer to a student by a different gender.

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