Enoch Burke €700 daily fine equates to making him pay for ‘religious beliefs’

Judge says potential fine ‘should persuade Mr Burke to end his utterly pointless attendance at a school which does not want him on its property’

Enoch Burke has claimed that a court’s decision to fine him over his continued breach of an order forbidding him from attending Wilson’s Hospital School equates to making him pay for his “religious beliefs”.

Mr Burke has until just 2pm on Friday to purge his contempt of an order restraining his attendance at the Co Westmeath school pending a disciplinary process, Mr Justice Brian O’Moore ruled on Thursday. If he does not a daily fine of €700 will come into effect. It will amount to just under €5,000 weekly, and “should persuade Mr Burke to end his utterly pointless attendance at a school which does not want him on its property”, the judge said.

If it does not have the desired effect “it can always be increased”, he added.

The disciplinary process in question is grounded on a report last August by the then school principal. It concerned Mr Burke’s opposition to her direction requesting teachers to address a transitioning pupil by their chosen name and using the pronoun “they” and Mr Burke’s behaviour at a school event last June where he publicly raised issues with the principal about her direction.


Speaking at the gates of the Co Westmeath School, where he spent all day Thursday, Mr Burke strongly criticised the court’s ruling.

“We’re at a time in this country where people are at their wit’s end. With the cost of everything, as we know, the cost of fuel, the cost of putting bread on the table, clothes on children’s backs, grocery bills going up.” He said that he was a “young teacher” who had spent the last four years “scraping together” a deposit for a house.

He then quoted scripture to gathered reporters, and refused to answer further questions.

Mr Burke spent the entirety of Thursday outside a school building. He left with his father after speaking to reporters.

Mr Justice O’Moore listed the matter on February 10th to monitor Mr Burke’s compliance and to consider liability for the costs of the school’s application to fine Mr Burke or sequester (temporarily detain) his assets until he purges his contempt.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times