High Court reporters
A High Court judge will rule either later on Wednesday or Thursday on whether to grant temporary release to jailed teacher Enoch Burke over the Christmas holidays.
Mr Burke was offered the opportunity to make submissions to the court on the proposition that he be released for Christmas, because the school at the centre of the dispute is closed for the holidays.
On Wednesday morning's sitting of the court, Mr Justice Brian O'Moore said he would give his ruling on the matter after he considered brief submissions from Mr Burke, and on behalf of his employer Wilson's Hospital School in Co Westmeath.
Mr Burke has spent the last three and a half months in Mountjoy Prison over his continued failure to obey a court order to stay away and not try to teach at the school.
Representing himself, Mr Burke repeated to Mr Justice O'Moore what he had said previously to the court that he was not interested in the "Christmas gift" of being let out of Mountjoy Prison for the festive period.
On Wednesday Mr Burke said he would not agree to his temporary release, as he said that would amount to accepting that he had been lawfully incarcerated.
He again said he had been jailed over his religious objections to transgenderism following the school's request last May that he refer to a male student as a 'they.'
During his submissions Mr Burke also said that he suspected that lawyers for the school and the court were "working hand in hand."
During what was at times a tetchy exchange between the court and Mr Burke, the teacher complained that the court had taken six weeks to give an outline decision on his bid to stay the main hearing of the school's action against him.
Court of Appeal
He wants the Court of Appeal to first determine his appeals against the making of injunctions, which were to remain in place pending the outcome of the full hearing of the school's proceedings against him, against him.
Mr Burke said that in an outline decision furnished to his legal advisor the court had refused his application for a stay and had put a timetable in place for the exchange of documents in the main High Court action.
He voiced his unhappiness at this, and the suggestion that it was he who had delayed and had been disruptive before the courts.
Mr Burke reminded the judge that he was "a civil servant," and that Mr Burke was a citizen of this State entitled to justice in an expeditious manner.
In reply, Mr Justice O'Moore rejected Mr Burkes criticisms and said that he would give a full decision on the stay application in January.
"You seem to be under a mistaken impression that I am to be interrogated by you," Mr Justice O'Moore said, adding that since the stay application has been heard he has had a full list to manage, as well as a personal matter when required some time away from the courts.
Matter for the court
The Judge also said that the court was focused on the whether Mr Burke should be given temporary release for Christmas, and said it would give its ruling on that matter either on Wednesday or Thursday of this week.
The court also heard from Rosemary Mallon Bl for the school's board of management told the court that it was ultimately a matter for the court if Mr Burke should be released for Christmas.
The school, counsel said, had sought the order committing Mr Burke to prison as a coercive measure, over his failure to comply with the terms of his paid suspension.
Counsel in reply to the judge said that the school was concerned about potential disruption being caused by Mr Burke after the school re-opens on January 5th if he were to be released.
Counsel said that a mechanism was required to ensure that its concerns would be addressed.
Counsel added that in light of the ongoing court action it had not progressed the disciplinary action it commenced against Mr Burke prior to the brining of the High Court proceedings.
Counsel confirmed that Mr Burke remains in receipt of full pay from the Dept of Education.
Last week Mr Burke's case came for review before Mr Justice Conor Dignam.
Mr Burke again refused to purge his contempt or agree to comply with the terms of the injunction against him.
Had he agreed to do so it would have resulted in him obtaining his freedom.
Mr Burke also pleaded with the court to make an order releasing him from prison without him agreeing to comply with the order to stay away from the school.
Mr Justice Dignam, in light of the fact that Mr Burke was refusing to comply with a valid court order, declined to release him.