Brother of Enoch Burke appears in court charged with threatening behaviour

Gardai removed members of the Burke family during scuffles at Dublin’s Court of Appeal.

By Grinne N. Aodha
Tuesday 07 March 2023 21:18 GMT
Irish teacher Enoch Burke leaving the the Court of Appeal in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)
Irish teacher Enoch Burke leaving the the Court of Appeal in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA) (PA Wire)

A brother of Irish teacher Enoch Burke has appeared before a judge charged with threatening and abusive behaviour following disturbances at a Court of Appeal hearing.

Simeon Burke was arrested after chaotic scenes broke out at the Four Courts in Dublin, as a judgment was delivered dismissing Enoch Burke’s appeal against injunctions barring him from attending a Co Westmeath school.

Simeon Burke, 24, with an address at Cloonsunna, Castlebar, Co Mayo, appeared before the District Court of the Criminal Courts of Justice on Tuesday charged under Section 6 of the Public Order Act.

It comes after several members of the Burke family were forcibly removed from a courtroom by gardai after repeatedly interrupting a judgment being read out at the Court of Appeal.

Enoch Burke was suspended from work on full pay last year pending the outcome of a disciplinary process with Wilson’s Hospital School, which arose from incidents concerning a row over a request to address a student by a new name and the pronoun “they”.

German and history teacher Enoch Burke, who has represented himself during the Court of Appeal hearings, was accompanied in court by his parents Martina and Sean Burke, his sister Ammi, and his brothers Isaac and Simeon.

He had previously argued that he could not accept “transgenderism” due to his Christian beliefs, and that the orders issued by the High Court were “manifestly unconstitutional and unlawful”.

Although the Court of Appeal agreed to hear his case, the President of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham, said it would have “great difficulty” with someone who may “pick and choose” what orders of the court he abides by.

Despite the court orders, Enoch Burke has been seen on the grounds of the secondary school several times.

As Mr Justice Birmingham delivered his judgment on Tuesday, Enoch Burke’s sister Ammi Burke, and mother Martina Burke, interrupted, prompting a Garda member to approach them as the three judges left the courtroom.

Martina Burke accused the court of “bowing before the altar of transgenderism”.

Both women accused the court of not addressing Enoch Burke’s constitutional rights, and Enoch Burke spoke to the empty courtroom while the judges were absent.

The judges returned minutes later and warned that if there were any further interruptions by members of the public, they would rise and the judgment would be delivered electronically.

Mr Justice Birmingham said that the judgment was being delivered physically as “justice should be seen to be administered in public”.

When Mr Justice Birmingham continued to read the judgment, and commented that it was not certain “this is not an exercise in creating soundbites”, further interruptions from several members of the Burke family took place.

The three judges left the courtroom again. Several gardai entered the courtroom and forcibly removed Ammi Burke.

Scuffles between up to 10 Garda officers and a number of members of the Burke family ensued as they were removed from the court.

Enoch Burke was seen clinging to a bench in the courtroom before being removed by four members of An Garda Siochana.

Isaac Burke was the last to be removed; two gardai were seen lifting him out of the courtroom dragging his legs behind him.

Simeon Burke was subsequently arrested and brought before the court charged with a public order offence.

He has been remanded in prison, with consent to bail, until March 14.

In the three judgments from each of the Court of Appeal judges issued after the court had adjourned, they unanimously ruled to dismiss Enoch Burke’s appeal against the High Court’s orders.

Mr Justice Birmingham said if it was not possible to meet “simultaneously the desires of the child and the parents on the one hand, and the appellant’s concerns on the other”, then the child must be prioritised.

“If that is the choice, and I am afraid that by reason of the appellant’s actions it may well have in fact come to that, I would be of the view that the wishes of the child and parents must prevail.”

He added: “In all of the circumstances, I would dismiss the appeal.”

Mr Justice John Edwards and Ms Justice Maire Whelan concurred with Mr Justice Birmingham in dismissing the appeal.

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