Enoch Burke released from prison after court order

The judge ordered Burke to be released, saying that it was intolerable that taxpayers were burdened by the cost of his imprisonment.

Enoch Burke being released from Mountjoy Prison, carrying his belongings in trash bags.
Image: Via Twitter - @courtsnewsIRL

A High Court judge ordered that Enoch Burke was to be released from prison on an “open-ended basis”, stating that the teacher was “exploiting his imprisonment for his own ends”.

On Wednesday, December 21, Enoch Burke was released from Mountjoy Prison after 108 days of incarceration for contempt of court. The teacher, who has repeatedly claimed that he was arrested for his religious beliefs, was actually jailed in September for refusing to comply with a High Court injunction against him.

His employer, Wilson’s Hospital 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 school for his alleged conduct at a school event in June, where he harassed the principal and publicly disputed a transgender student’s ‘they/them’ pronouns.

His imprisonment in Mountjoy Prison depended entirely on his refusal to purge his contempt of court and abide by judges’ orders. At a hearing last week, Burke once again refused to do so, saying that purging contempt would be in breach of his Christian beliefs and his duty to God.

On Wednesday, he was summoned to court again by Justice O’Moore, who ruled that Burke was to be released. He based his decision on a series of factors, namely the teacher’s failure to obey the court, the Wilson’s Hospital School’s lack of opposition to his release, the Christmas holidays, the use of public funds and Burke’s motivation.

Justice O’Moore defined Burke’s conduct as “illogical”, stating that complying with the court orders would in no way compromise his religious beliefs since it would only entail staying away from the school’s premises and avoid interfering with the school’s educational activities. The judge then commented that it was “difficult to avoid the conclusion that Mr Burke is exploiting his imprisonment for his own ends”.

The judge then proceeded to enunciate Burke’s actions in continually refusing to purge contempt, delaying his own trial and not securing his immediate release when it was in his power to do so and stated that the “only plausible explanation” for Burke’s conduct was “that he sees some advantage in his continuing imprisonment”.

“Mr Burke’s continued jailing would only facilitate whatever he feels he is currently achieving by being in prison. The court will not enable someone found to be in contempt of court to garner some advantage from that defiance,” Justice O’Moore stated.

“In the current case, 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,” the judge said.

O’Moore also pointed out that Irish taxpayers were being “burdened with paying Mr Burke’s salary at the same time as they are paying for his upkeep in Mountjoy”, commenting that it was “intolerable that the public is paying, until some indefinite future date, the cost of Mr Burke’s incarceration as well as his wages”.

The judge said that Burke’s freedom from prison would last as long as he doesn’t breach a High Court order again.

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.