Teacher Enoch Burke jailed for contempt of court calls for freedom

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The teacher who was jailed for contempt of court over a dispute with his school over being transgender will tell a judge this morning that he has been defamed.

Enoch Burke will be brought in from Mountjoy Prison, where he has been held since September 5, to make his final request.

Mr Burke is seeking a court order restraining the further publication of an article in the Sunday Independent which he claims defamed him. The newspaper denies that Mr. Burke was defamed.

Photo: Collins Courts

Judge Brian O’Moore said he also wanted to deal with the management of the case of the ongoing litigation between the school and Mr Burke this morning, to ensure that he could reach a conclusion as soon as possible. Mr Burke is also due to appear in the Court of Appeal today, appealing against the High Court injunction preventing him from attending or teaching at the school.

It was a violation of this injunction that landed him in jail for contempt. Mr Burke has refused to obey the High Court order won by Wilson’s Hospital School in County Westmeath requiring him to stay away from the school and not attempt to teach there during his suspension.

His suspension followed his objection to a request by the school principal to staff at Church of Ireland Secondary School to call a transitioning pupil by their new name and use the pronoun “they”.

Mr Burke said he could not comply as it was not in line with his Christian belief that there are only two sexes, male and female.

During his court appearances last month, Mr Burke claimed his continued detention for contempt of court was a “gross injustice”. Photo Collins Court

During his court appearances last month, Mr Burke claimed his continued detention for contempt of court was a “gross injustice”.

He alleged that the High Court and his school had sought to “deprive me of my religious freedom and take away something that should be guaranteed”.

His sister Ammi Burke, a barrister, told the court yesterday that she was seeking an urgent production order to allow her brother to seek an interim order ‘against the Sunday Independent, the Irish Independent and others banning the publication subsequent publication of a defamatory article”.

She said the article contained “libelous and highly damaging allegations that interfere and are extremely damaging to ongoing legal proceedings.” She said it sparked a “continuing proliferation of defamation” online, and she claimed the Irish Prison Service confirmed the story was “false”.

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