High court reporters
A High Court judge has strongly rejected criticisms made by jailed teacher Enoch Burke about other members of the judiciary as "utterly without merit." .
Mr Justice Brian O'Moore rebuffed allegations made by Mr Burke against judges who had made rulings in proceedings taken by the teacher's employer's Wilson's Hospital School in Co Westmeath which came before the courts earlier this year.
Mr Burke who has been in Mountjoy Prison since early September was back before the High Court on Monday seeking a stay on the full hearing of the action brought against him by the school until his appeal against an injunction obtained by his employer has been determined.
Mr Burke claims that in breach of his constitutional rights to freedom of religion and religious practice he has been jailed over his objection to transgenderism.
The school's board of management rejects that contention as says the case is about Mr Burke's refusal to comply with the terms of his paid suspension from his employment.
In his submissions to the court Mr Burke, an evangelical Christian, is appealing the High Court decision to put injunctions in place preventing him from teaching at or attending the school until the matter has been full determined.
The dispute over the injunctions will centre around the school's entitlement to bring internal disciplinary proceedings, arising out of alleged gross misconduct against Mr Burke.
Mr Burke's appeal against injunctions and other issues are due to be heard by the Court of Appeal in mid-February.
In his submissions he remarked that his appeal should be heard before the full hearing. He said that he has a very strong chance of being successful in his appeal against High Court orders against a disciplinary process he said is "manifestly unlawful."
He claims that the findings against him made by several judges of the High Court should be reviewed by the Court of Appeal before any full hearing should be heard.
He said that orders had been made against him by High Court judges that were "fundamentally wrong", were "a miscarriage of justice", "shameful" and should be set aside.
Mr Justice Max Barrett, he said, had stated that the case was "not about transgenderism".
This was fundamentally not the case Mr Burke said, adding that 99.9 per cent of the people on the street believe that the case is about his objection to transgenderism, and that he has been jailed because of his religious belief that there are only two genders.
Mr Burke added that he also opposes Ms Justice Eileen Roberts' finding, when she dismissed his application for an order that would have ended his suspension from work, that the case was not about his religious belief and his right to freely express his deeply held Christian beliefs.
During his submissions Mr Burke said that the High Court judges should not have granted any orders against him, adding that they had acted in breach of his rights, which are enshrined in and are "the cornerstone" of the Irish Constitution.
By making orders against him that resulted in his imprisonment he alleged the judges, “who are well remunerated by taxpayers, and paid multiple times more than what a teacher gets, were not adhering to the oath of office they [had] taken before God. “
He also expressed his fears that if the orders are allowed stand, then other thousands of teachers and workers could, like him, be jailed for expressing their religiously-held objections to transgenderism.
The court decisions against him he said were "a dark day" for religious freedoms, and it was imperative that those orders be heard first by the court of appeal.
He also described the full hearing of the schools claim against him as "an abomination" but says that he has no objection to the full hearing proceeding after the appeal has been heard.
The school, represented by Rosemary Mallon Bl, opposed Mr Burke's application for a stay, on grounds including that he would not be prejudiced by any early hearing, and that even if he was successful in his appeal the dispute must be fully heard by the High Court.
Allegations against judges
Mr Justice O'Moore said that while he had allowed the teacher to make submissions to the court without interruption, he wanted to make it clear that Mr Burke's allegations against named members of the Irish judiciary were "utterly without merit."
He also described the language used by Mr Burke where he described judges as presiding over "a cover up" or "a stitch up" by the courts against Mr Burke and his beliefs as being "inappropriate."
The judge also reminded Mr Burke of a quote contained in the Bible by Jesus, known as the 'Golden rule', that one should "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
That was a fundamental Christian teaching and the judge doubted if Mr Burke's references to the judges and other people could be applied to that quotation.
Mr Justice O'Moore said he was reserving his decision on the stay application would give his ruling "in due course."
However, the judge said it would not be possible to have the full dispute heard before Christmas.
The teacher remains incarcerated at Mountjoy Prison over his refusal to comply with High Court injunction to stay away from and not teach at the Co Westmeath school, in a row he claims centres around his objection to transgenderism.
The school brought proceedings against Mr Burke over his alleged failure to comply with the terms of his suspension on full pay from the school.
Mr Burke has appealed various High Court decisions including the granting of injunction, which it to remain in place until the High Court has decided the matter, directing him to stay away from the school to the Court of Appeal.
Mr Burke was then jailed for being in contempt of court last September.
He will remain there until he agrees to comply with a court order that he not attend at or attempt to teach any classes at the school.
The school obtained the order committing Mr Burke, who had been suspended pending the hearing of a disciplinary hearing into allegations of misconduct against him, to prison over his failure to comply with the terms of an injunction requiring him to stay away from the school until the disciplinary process has been completed.
Mr Burke, a History and German teacher, was suspended on full pay late last August pending an investigation into alleged misconduct.
The school claims that his refusal to comply with the injunction was disruptive to the school's students.
In a counterclaim Mr Burke, who says he should never have been the subject of disciplinary process after he expressed his objections to the school's direction to its staff regarding how to address a student who wishes to transition from male to female, seeks various orders and declarations against the school.
He seeks various declarations including that the school's disciplinary process against him is unlawful and a breach of his constitutional rights, including his rights to freedom of expression, conscience, and religion.
He also seeks various orders preventing the school from continuing both his paid administrative leave, and the disciplinary process against him and an order preventing the school from dismissing him from his position.