No decision has been made in the disciplinary hearing involving suspended teacher Enoch Burke and Wilson’s Hospital School.
The hearing, which was disrupted by the protests of the Burke family, took place on Thursday at The Mullingar Park Hotel in Co Westmeath. Earlier this week, Mr Burke failed in his attempts to get a High Court injunction to prevent the hearing from taking place. He argued that the disciplinary process “has gone irremediably wrong”.
The family took issue on Thursday with the fact that the appointed chairman of the process, John Rogers, was not present. He is understood to have taken ill before the meeting, with an acting chairperson standing in. They also took issue with the presence of representatives of legal firm Mason Hayes Curran, who they claimed were “conducting the meeting”.
Mr Burke was suspended and remains on paid administrative leave pending the process, initiated on foot of a report prepared last August by the then principal of the school near Multyfarnham, Niamh McShane.
It concerned Mr Burke’s emailed objection to a direction last May to teachers to address a transitioning student by their chosen name and using the pronouns “they/them” and his publicly voiced opposition to that direction at a school event last June. He alleges such a direction is a breach of his religious beliefs.
Mr Burke was jailed for contempt of court orders in early September because he continued to attend the school despite there being court orders restraining him from doing so. He was released on an open-ended basis on December 21st last, after 108 days, without having purged his contempt.
After he again attended the school on January 5th following the Christmas holidays, the school applied for orders imposing fines on Mr Burke or temporarily detaining his assets. That application, which Mr Burke strongly opposed, will be ruled on next week.
The board of management declined to comment to the media following Thursday’s hearing in Mullingar. Some members of the board remained in the meeting room afterwards, while Mr Burke and his relatives remained outside.
Members of the board left the hotel briefly on Thursday and, as they returned, were shouted at by the Burkes, who made numerous accusations against them and their legal representatives.
Media watched on as the Burkes continued to shout accusations at the board members in the hotel lobby. Hotel staff intervened and asked the media to temporarily leave the hotel, while the Burkes remained.
Mr Burke claimed to the waiting media that the entire process was a “sham” and that the disciplinary hearing should not have taken place, owing to the absence of the appointed chairman.
Gardaí were called to the hotel on two separate occasions on Thursday as a result of the protest by the Burkes.