Enoch Burke has so far run up court fines of €3,500 for contempt of court as he continues to arrive at Wilson’s Hospital School in Co Westmeath despite a judge’s ban.
Burke has also insisted citizens shouldn’t surrender their intelligence just because members of the judiciary wear a wig and a robe.
In a defiant stance, Burke again arrived outside the school gates at Multyfarnham for the sixth day after a disciplinary hearing fired him on January 20. A judge subsequently gave him until 2 pm last Friday to purge an earlier contempt of court or pay a €700 a day fine.
That means he already owes €3,500 in fines over his behavior when he continued to turn up at the school after his initial suspension.
Burke, from Castlebar, Co Mayo, spent 108 days in jail last year for contempt of a court order to not attend or attempt to teach any classes at the school, which placed him on paid administrative leave in August pending a disciplinary process.
Burke was suspended on full pay as part of a disciplinary process after he allegedly confronted the school's then principal Niamh McShane at a school dinner in June after McShane had sent an email to all staff requesting that they refer to a transgender student as "they/them".
Burke, who does not believe in transgenderism, repeatedly objected to McShane's request.
McShane told Burke that she was willing to speak to him, but that the dinner was not the appropriate place, and she walked away from him. Burke, however, allegedly followed and continued to question McShane loudly; other people allegedly had to stand between them to prevent the continuation of his questioning.
“It is not about his beliefs, it is about his conduct," Rosemary Mallon, counsel for the school’s board of management, told the court in September.
Despite refusing to purge his contempt, Burke was eventually released from Mountjoy Prison just before Christmas but was warned by a judge he could find himself back behind bars or have his assets sequestered if he breached orders again.
After disciplinary proceedings, Burke was formally dismissed from his position on January 20. Under school disciplinary procedures, he is entitled to appeal the outcome within 10 working days. He has continued to attend the school in breach of court orders to stay away.
On Monday of this week, he described as “scurrilous” an accusation by a judge that he “exploited” his imprisonment for contempt of court and used it to his own ends.
He told the Irish Independent that he was in a 12-foot by six-foot cell for 108 days, behind a locked door, with one to two six-minute phone calls a day and one to two visits a week.
He asked, “How do you exploit a situation like that? The truth of the matter is I should never have been in prison.”
He also claimed that the media should be asking if was it allowable that a school could dismiss a teacher solely because of their religious beliefs, or if was it allowable for a principal to demand the staff that they accept transgenderism?
He added, “I would say just in relation to the media, because it also points to their scrutiny of the judiciary, just because somebody puts on a wig and a robe, it doesn’t mean all of us should surrender our intelligence.”
When asked how he passes the time outside the school, Burke conceded that the days are long. “It is a long day. I’m here to work,” he said.
*A version of this column first appeared in the February 1 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.