In defiance of court orders and a formal dismissal from his teaching position, Enoch Burke returned to Wilson’s Hospital School on Tuesday morning. He was arrested by gardaí under public order legislation, then returned again following his release from Mullingar Garda station.
On arriving to the school following his arrest, Mr Burke was denied entry to the school grounds by principal Frank Milling.
The school gates were eventually closed, but reopened some time later to allow a bus to drive into the premises around 3.20pm. Mr Burke then walked back onto the school premises, but did not enter any school building.
He remained outside the school building until he was driven away by his father, Seán, shortly before 4pm.
He’s back at the school, but he can’t get in. Earlier, he was arrested by gardaí under the Public Order Act 1994. pic.twitter.com/FctiO2uRie
— Fiachra Gallagher (@fiachragllagher) January 24, 2023
He previously was arrested on the school premises after 12.30pm on Tuesday afternoon under the Public Order Act 1994, after showing up to the premises despite his dismissal.
Gardaí arrived at the school after 11.10am, after Mr Burke was dropped off at the school by his father before the beginning of the teaching day.
It is understood that Mr Burke spent much of the morning on the premises, but outside the school building.
In a statement, gardaí said that a man had been arrested and brought to Mullingar Garda station, before being released “pending the submission of a file to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions”.
Speaking to reporters at the gates of the school, Mr Burke claimed that he was “wrongfully” arrested, and strongly criticised the principal, Mr Milling.
“It’s totally reprehensible that the gardaí would arrive in… then come down and wrongfully arrest me,” Mr Burke said.
He claimed that gardaí had spent 45 minutes in the principal’s office before coming to arrest him.
He described the incident “regrettable” and “terrible”. “And I said as much to the gardaí,” he added.
“I’m here to teach, I’ve broken no laws, I’ve done nothing wrong,” he said.
He also described the disciplinary hearings held last week by the Co Westmeath school, which culminated in his formal dismissal from his teaching positing on Friday evening, as a “total sham”.
Wilson’s Hospital School was contacted for comment.
Mr Burke was formally dismissed from his position at the school on Friday, when he was informed in person by principal Frank Milling and chair of the school board of management, John Rogers.
His dismissal followed a chaotic disciplinary hearing held at a hotel in Mullingar last week. Under school disciplinary procedures, he is entitled to appeal the outcome within 10 working days.
Mr Burke failed in his attempts to get a High Court injunction to prevent the disciplinary hearing from taking place. He argued that the process had “gone irredeemably wrong”. He had been suspended and on paid administrative leave pending the process, initiated following a report prepared last August by the then school principal Niamh McShane.
It concerned Mr Burke’s emailed objection to a direction last May to teachers to address a transitioning student by their chosen name and using the pronouns “they/them” and his publicly voiced opposition to that direction at a school event last June. He alleges such a direction is a breach of his religious beliefs.
Mr Burke was jailed for contempt of court orders in early September because he continued to attend the school despite there being court orders restraining him from doing so. He was released on an open-ended basis on December 21st last, after 108 days, without having purged his contempt.
After he again attended the school on January 5th following the Christmas holidays, the school applied for orders imposing fines on Mr Burke or temporarily detaining his assets. That application, which Mr Burke strongly opposed, will be ruled on later.