‘I’ve not done anything wrong’: Enoch Burke spends day in corridor of Wilson’s Hospital School

Suspended teacher said he was ‘awaiting reinstatement’ to his position despite court order to stay away pending disciplinary hearing

Enoch Burke, and his father Sean, outside Wilson's Hospital School in Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath, on Friday

Suspended schoolteacher Enoch Burke spent Friday in a corridor of Wilson’s Hospital School, before declaring that he was “awaiting reinstatement” to his teaching position at the Co Westmeath school.

Speaking to reporters at the gates of the school outside Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath, Mr Burke repeated his reasoning for showing up to the school despite his suspension by the school, and his defiance of a court order.

“What is happening in the school here is just preposterous,” he said, after showing up to work for the second day in a row.

“I came to school this morning to teach, and I was standing in the corridor for the day. I’ve not done anything wrong.” He reiterated his “right” to his “religious beliefs”.


The teacher was released from prison in late December on an “open-ended” basis. In the High Court, Mr Justice Brian O’Moore made it clear that if Mr Burke breached any existing court orders made against him, he may again be jailed.

Mr Burke had been jailed since September 5th, 2022, for contempt of orders restraining him attending or teaching at Wilson’s Hospital School, Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath.

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The school put him on paid administrative leave in September pending a disciplinary process arising from his behaviour at a school event last June, where he publicly questioned the then principal over an earlier direction from her to teachers to address a transitioning pupil by their chosen name and using the pronoun “they”.

Mr Burke claims that direction, and the court orders, breach his constitutional rights including to freedom of religious belief.

Mr Burke has repeatedly claimed that the request to address the pupil by the “they” pronoun goes against his Christian faith, a claim he repeated on Friday at the gates of the school.

“The people of this country have a right to their religious beliefs, and I am simply awaiting reinstatement in my classroom,” he said. He did not respond to further questions.

Mr Burke left the school campus on foot shortly after 3.40pm, before meeting his father, Sean, at the school gates. After a brief consultation with his father, he made his statement to reporters.

Wilson’s Hospital School were contacted for comment.

An Garda Síochána said it was aware of the incident at the school, but noted it was a civil matter. “An Garda Síochána has no role at this time. The role of An Garda Síochána is to ensure peace and public order is maintained, and no criminal offence is committed.”

Mr Burke is scheduled to appear in the High Court on Wednesday, January 11th, where he will come before Mr Justice Brian O’Moore, the judge who sent him to jail for contempt in September for not staying away from Wilson’s Hospital School pending a disciplinary hearing.

In December Mr Justice O’Moore ordered that Mr Burke be released from prison even though he had not purged his contempt, saying the school could come back to the court seeking Mr Burke’s attachment if he again failed to stay away from his place of employment as ordered by the court.

Mr Burke returned to the school on Thursday and Friday of this week, when it reopened after the Christmas vacation. On Wednesday last, he represented himself when making an ex parte application before a vacation sitting of the High Court. He told the court the disciplinary hearing was scheduled to be heard on January 11th, and that he wanted to seek an injunction preventing it going ahead.

Ms Justice Siobhán Stack gave him permission to serve short notice of the injunction application on the school and returned the matter to 11th January, to come before Mr Justice O’Moore. Adjourning the matter to that date would allow time for the school to respond, she said.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent