Enoch Burke to remain in prison after refusing to stay away from school

Gardaí directed to remove members of Mr Burke’s family from the court due to their disruptions

Enoch Burke will remain in Mountjoy Prison after he again refused to stay away from Wilson’s Hospital School, where he used to teach.

Mr Burke said he would not agree to comply with an “manifestly unjust order” which, he said, is akin to asking him to deny his religious beliefs and to “endorse transgenderism”.

He told the High Court on Tuesday that he did not want to be in prison and complained his ongoing imprisonment is the result of an order that is an “unconstitutional misuse” of the court.

The case came before Mr Justice Mark Sanfey for review of Mr Burke’s imprisonment for contempt of a court order.


The judge directed Mr Burke’s return to Mountjoy and said the court was not concerned with the background dispute between the parties in the case.

The court was only dealing with the contempt issue, he said. Mr Burke could secure his release if he gave an undertaking to stay away from the Co Westmeath school.

While considering the matter, the judge directed gardaí to remove members of Mr Burke’s family who were shouting and interrupting the court.

Mr Burke’s father, Sean, and sister, Ammi, were physically removed by gardaí after refusing to leave and insisting they had a right to be there.

His mother, Martina who at one point said she would not be leaving without her son, eventually departed the courtroom of her own accord.

During what were at times robust and tense exchanges between the defendant, members of the Burke family, and the court, the judge told the teacher: “you don’t get to ask the questions around here.”

Mr Burke argued he has done nothing wrong and is only in prison because of his religious beliefs, and opposition to “transgenderism”.

He said his right to religious freedom was breached when the school instructed him to refer to a student by a different pronoun.

“This is what this case is all about,” he said, adding that this is why he is in Mountjoy Prison.

After Mr Burke refused to purge his contempt, Mr Justice Sanfey ruled Mr Burke should return to jail.

The judge added that Mr Burke can come to court at any time to give an undertaking that will secure his release.

The matter will be next reviewed by the court on December 12th, the judge added.

Mr Burke was jailed last month after the school’s board of management asked the court for orders seeking the Co Mayo-based teacher’s attachment and committal to prison over his deliberate failure to comply with a permanent injunction granted by Mr Justice Alexander Owens earlier this year.

Mr Burke opposed the application.

However, Mr Justice Mark Heslin ruled there “was no dispute” and that Mr Burke had “flagrantly breached” orders requiring him to stay away from the school. That judge ordered that he must be committed to prison “indefinitely” until he purges his contempt by agreeing to stay away from the school.

When the case came before the court on Tuesday, Rosemary Mallon BL, for the school, said that, with “great reluctance”, she was asking for Mr Burke to remain in jail unless he was prepared to give under takings to purge his contempt.

The board claimed Mr Burke attended at Wilson’s Hospital campus every day since the new school year commenced in late August and his presence was causing “severe disruption for staff and students”.

It was the second time the evangelical Christian has been jailed for contempt. He spent over 100 days in prison between September and December of last year.

Following his suspension in August 2022, Mr Burke was sued by the school over his failure to comply with a court order requiring him to stay away from the school.

Mr Burke has brought a challenge against the three-person panel appointed to hear his appeal against his dismissal from his teaching position.