Enoch Burke breaches High Court order after showing up at school

The teacher was released from Mountjoy Prison after 108 days on the condition that he complied with the court-ordered injunction against him.

Left: Headshot of Enoch Burke, Right: Wilson's Hospital School in the frost.
Image: Left: Twitter: @Huggies8th, Right: @WilsonHospital

On Thursday, January 5, Enoch Burke once again breached a High Court injunction against him by attending Wilson’s Hospital School on the institution’s first day back after the Christmas holidays. The teacher is reported to have arrived on the premises between 8:30am and 8:45am, dropped off by his father Sean.

Parents are said to have alerted the principal of Burke’s attendance, and although An Garda Síochána stated that they “have no role at this time” as the matter refers to a civil order, it is understood that authorities have been liaising with school staff throughout the day. When contacted by Independent.ie, the Westmeath institution declined to comment.

Although it is unclear how Wilson’s Hospital School will proceed, it is thought that there will be no application made to the High Court for Burke’s arrest today.

Enoch Burke was freed from Mountjoy Prison on December 21 after spending 108 days incarcerated for contempt of court. The teacher was arrested in September for refusing to comply with a High Court injunction against him.

The secondary school obtained the injunction after Burke turned up to class despite being on paid administrative leave pending a disciplinary process. He was suspended from working at the institution following his alleged conduct at a school event in June, where he harassed the principal and publicly disputed a transgender student’s ‘they/them’ pronouns.

Justice Brian O’Moore ordered his release before Christmas, stating that the “only plausible explanation” for Burke’s conduct – refusing to purge his contempt and delaying his own trial – was “that he sees some advantage in his continuing imprisonment”.

The judge felt that it was “intolerable” that Irish taxpayers were “paying, until some indefinite future date, the cost of Mr Burke’s incarceration as well as his wages”.

Crucially, Justice O’Moore added: “I am ordering the release of Mr Burke but only on the basis that the school can come back to court to seek his attachment and committal, the sequestration of his assets, or any other appropriate measure in the event that he does not comply with any court order.”

Burke’s attendance at school comes just a day after he sought an injunction preventing the institution from holding a disciplinary meeting to evaluate his alleged misconduct.

The German and history teacher appeared before a vacation sitting of the High Court on Wednesday, January 4, explaining that he received a letter on December 22 confirming that the school would hold a disciplinary hearing on January 19. Justice Siobhan Stack granted Burke permission on an ex-parte basis to serve short notice of the injunction application, but made the matter returnable on to January 11 when the new legal term commences.

Despite Burke arguing against the return date as he said it was a matter of urgency, the judge refused to bring it before the court any earlier.

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