Sacked schoolteacher Enoch Burke’s fines for contempt of court reached €32,200 today when he turned up at his former workplace despite High Court orders directing him not to.
He is being fined €700 a day for each day he persists in arriving at Wilson’s Hospital school in Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath.
It has now been 46 days since the fines came into play after Burke continued to turn up despite being dismissed.
Even during last week’s snow and freezing temperatures Burke was driven to the school so he could maintain his solo vigil of turning up for work only to be left out in the cold for the day.
There were chaotic scenes in the Four Courts last week when Burke and members of his family had to be removed by force after judges rejected his appeal against High Court injunctions directing him not to trespass at the school.
The three-judge court, in three separate judgments, dismissed the appeal.
The delivery of the judgments was interrupted several times with gardaí eventually intervening to remove members of the family.
The confrontation broke out after the Burkes got to their feet and loudly objected to comments by the president of the court, Mr Justice George Birmingham.
He spent 108 days in prison last year for contempt of court orders but was let out just before Christmas.
However, when school term resumed in the new year he continued to turn up on a daily basis and was arrested for trespass, and a file has now been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The courts decided not to imprison him for a second time, but impose the hefty €700 a day fine instead in the hope that it would persuade Burke to stop arriving at the school.
But he has turned up every day apart from the days where he has been in court in Dublin.
Mr Justice Brian O’Moore has previously said the fines could be increased, but that option has not come into play to date.
His suspension last August came after Mr Burke, an evangelical Christian, refused to comply with a request from the then principal to call a transgender pupil by a new name and preferred pronouns.
A number of incidents, in which Mr Burke expressed opposition on religious grounds to the request, prompted the school’s board of management to put him on paid administrative leave.
He was sacked by the board of management in January, a decision he is appealing to a tribunal.
Mr Burke claims the school is discriminating against his religious beliefs, and denies his presence at the school is causing disruption.
He claims that he has received support from some students, parents and teachers.
The hearing of the full cases between the school and Mr Burke remains pending before the High Court, and is expected to be heard later this year.
During last week’s Court of Appeal hearings a younger brother of Enoch Burke was arrested and charged with threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour.
Simeon Burke (24) was brought before Dublin District Court accused of causing a breach of the peace at the Four Courts.
The accused, of Cloonsunna, Castlebar, Co Mayo, is charged with using threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour at the Four Courts under Section 6 of the Public Order Act.
Judge Paula Murphy granted him bail and adjourned the case to Cloverhill District Court tomorrow. Mr Burke told the court he would not sign the bail bond and was remanded in custody with consent to bail.