Teacher Enoch Burke jailed for contempt of court

The man was arrested after failing to attend court following an alleged breach of an injunction against him.

Enoch Burke with Gardaí after receiving sentencing.
Image: Twitter: @RTEnews

Teacher Enoch Burke has been jailed for contempt of court. Justice Michael Quinn issued the ruling on Monday, September 5, sentencing Burke to an indefinite prison term which can only be ended if the man agrees to purge his contempt, or a judge orders his release.

Last Friday, Judge Miriam O’Regan ordered Burke’s arrest after he failed to attend court following an alleged breach of an injunction against him. The injunction was granted to the Board of Management (BOM) at Wilson’s Hospital School in Westmeath, where Burke teaches and where he reportedly turned up despite being on paid administrative leave pending a disciplinary process.

Burke was suspended for his alleged conduct at a school event in June, where he publicly disputed a Transgender student’s ‘they/them’ pronouns. The secondary school had requested that the teacher respect the student’s gender identity, but he reportedly argued that a belief system was being forced upon the students and that Transgenderism goes against the institution’s ethos and the teaching of the Church of Ireland.

In court on Monday, he stated that members of school staff were being told by the principal “to call a boy a girl,” something that was “manifestly wrong” and was against his Christian beliefs. He said that he couldn’t “in conscience” obey the court order made last Tuesday, and that he wanted to be in his classroom but couldn’t “because I said I would not call a boy a girl”.

Justice Quinn explained in his ruling that a restraining order delivered to Burke on August 30 prevented the teacher from attending school or teaching classes until after September 7. His continued attendance at Wilson’s Hospital School led the BOM to seek his attachment and committal for contempt of the order, and the Gardaí brought him from the institution to court on Monday.

Burke was found guilty of contempt of the order, and was sent to Mountjoy Prison until he purges his contempt. Justice Quinn added that his concern was not the beliefs and position adopted by the man or the school, only that the teacher had breached his order.

Burke responded to being jailed by saying that he could not purge contempt of something he considered to be in breach of his Christian beliefs.

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