Anti-trans teacher jailed for refusing to stay away from school after suspension loses release bid

A picture of Enoch Burke, who failed in a bid to be released from prison.

Disgraced teacher Enoch Burke has failed in a bid to be released from prison after breaching a court order.

Burke was jailed on 5 September after breaching a court injunction preventing him from attending Ireland’s Wilson’s Hospital School premises.

The injunction was obtained after an “outburst”, in which he angrily confronted the principal over direction to refer to a transgender student by their correct pronouns.

The evangelical Christian claimed using they/them pronouns would go against his religious beliefs, and refused to do so.

He was then put on administrative leave for his public outburst, pending a disciplinary process, but ignored orders to stay away from the school and told a judge he would continue attending the premises. This led to him being jailed for contempt of court.

“I love my school,” Burke said. “I am here today because I would not call a boy a girl. It is not something I will do, it is a violation of my conscience.”

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He has since attempted to convince the court to halt the injunctions. Attending court on Monday, (12 September) Burke represented himself with the help of his brother, saying the disciplinary process used against him was “unconstitutional and unlawful.”

“I should be going home with my father and my brother this evening,” Burke said, adding that the decision to put him on paid leave was “unreasonable, unfair, unjust, and unlawful.”

School had already halted disciplinary hearing

Burke also added it would be “unconscionable” to allow a disciplinary hearing to proceed in Mullingar on 14 September.

Barrister Rosemary Mallon, who represents Wilson’s Hospital School, responded that the hearing had already been halted on Wednesday, adding that if Burke had contacted the school’s solicitors, he would have known the hearing was not going ahead.

Justice Conor Dignam eventually denied the request by Burke, saying that it was unnecessary to grant three of the injunctions sought by Burke because the hearing was not going ahead. He did, however, adjourn Burke’s application to prevent him from being put on administrative leave.

A further court date has been set for Wednesday (14 September), when the pre-planned hearing was supposed to take place.

Burke is expected to remain in jail until he purges his contempt or by order of the court.

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