The teacher has until 2pm today to inform the High Court of his intention to stop showing up at Wilson’s Hospital School
Enoch Burke has again shown up at the school from which he was fired, for a fourth morning in row, on Friday.
The teacher has until 2pm today to indicate to the High Court whether he will finally agree to desist from his daily visits to Wilson’s Hospital School.
If he refuses to agree, he faces being fined €700 for every day that passes until he purges his contempt.
On Friday morning, he had no comment when asked by reporters whether he would obey.
In a ruling yesterday, Mr Justice Brian O’Moore said he believed the prospect of having to pay thousands of euro per week in fines “should persuade Mr Burke to end his utterly pointless attendance at a school which does not want him on its property”.
But if there is anything this saga has thought us, it is that Enoch Burke is not easily swayed.
Despite the judge’s hope the imposition of fines will compel Mr Burke into complying, it may be foolish to bet on such an outcome.
After leaving the school yesterday, he declined to say if he would abide by the court order.
Late last year, the history and German teacher spent 108 days in prison. That could not convince him to comply with the order prohibiting him from attending at the school premises “for the duration of his paid administrative leave” and from “trespassing on the property” of the school.
Even after he was dismissed last Friday, Mr Burke has continued to show up at his former workplace.
He had been denied access to school buildings and has spent his days standing in the courtyard.
Even his arrest on Tuesday for alleged trespass has failed to dissuade him from showing up each morning.
Mr Justice O’Moore said that if the €700-a-day fine “does not have the desired effect, it can always be increased”.
Further options that might be looked at in that scenario were not stated.
Legal experts say it could create something of a dilemma for the court.
“If Enoch Burke doesn’t want to pay, there is no easy method of getting the money due,” one senior barrister told the Irish Independent.
Order 43 of the Superior Court Rules allows for the High Court to issue an order of sequestration where a person is directed to pay money into court and refuses or neglects to do so.
This would amount to the court holding possession of the person’s assets and potentially selling some of them to pay off the fine.
However, Mr Justice O’Moore was against the idea of sequestration in his ruling yesterday, saying he did not believe depriving Mr Burke of his assets would persuade him to comply with the order.
If Mr Burke fails to pay fines, the judge may have to look at this option again.
The teacher does not own any property. He is on a salary of around €48,000, the High Court has heard, and by his own admission he has some savings.
Mr Burke said yesterday he had been scraping together money for a deposit on a house, without divulging how much he had saved.
He also has income from giving grinds and is the author of a number of religious books which are for sale online. The extent of his income from these is unclear.
Mr Burke criticised Mr Justice O’Moore’s ruling, claiming he was being fined for his religious beliefs.
He described the ruling as “a stain on our country”.
Although Mr Burke’s row with the school has its roots in his refusal, on religious grounds, to address a transgender child by the pronoun ‘they’, the order he is in breach of does not require him to change his religious views.
It simply requires him to stay away from his former workplace and not to trespass on school property.
Mr Justice O’Moore has made this point on a number of occasions.
If Mr Burke has not purged his contempt by 2pm today, the fines will begin.
The matter will be reviewed by the court again on February 10.
Meanwhile, Mr Burke has until next Friday to lodge an appeal against his dismissal from his job.
Separately, Mr Burke has appealed against a number of High Court orders.
This is due to be heard by the Court of Appeal on February 16.
Depending on the outcome of that appeal, it appears the trial of a case being brought by the school against the teacher will begin in March.
The High Court will also hear a counterclaim from Mr Burke, who alleges he was suspended in a flawed process which had a predetermined outcome.