The Irish High Court has ordered the release of Enoch Burke, the Irish schoolteacher who has been incarcerated twice over the past two years.

Burke has spent overall more than 400 days in prison following his refusal to stay away from Wilson's Hospital School in Co Westmeath where he was dismissed from in January 2023 after a misconduct hearing.

Burke appeared before the High Court on Friday in a bid to overturn what he described as a "gravely flawed" and "unconstitutional" injunction granted by Justice Alexander Owens last year.

Burke has consistently denied that he is in contempt of court and said he could not accept "transgenderism" after being asked to do so by the school. He said the request clashed with his Christian beliefs. 

The court also heard submissions from Wilson's Hospital School during the hearing on Friday.

Justice Mark Sanfey ordered Burke's release on Friday despite noting that Burke had not purged his contempt of court. 

Justice Sanfey said he was directing Burke's release after a review of the situation, stating that state examinations had now been completed and that the school is on holidays. 

The judge said he hoped Burke would use the time to reflect on the situation and warned him that the injunction remains in place. 

He added that he would have no hesitation in entertaining a fresh application from the school to have Burke incarcerated again. 

Justice Sanfey stated that he would reserve his judgment and give a decision in the coming weeks. 

In August 2022, Burke, from Castlebar in Co Mayo, 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 two months prior.

The confrontation came after McShane emailed all staff requesting that they refer to a transgender student by their new name and preferred pronouns.

Burke, an Evangelical Christian, repeatedly objected to McShane's request. 

McShane allegedly told Burke that she would be willing to speak to him about the issues but added that the school dinner would not be an appropriate place to have the conversation.

However, Burke allegedly followed McShane and began shouting at her, prompting other people present at the dinner to stand between them to prevent Burke from continuing the confrontation. 

The school obtained an injunction against Burke in August 2022 after he continued to attend the school despite being placed on administrative leave. 

Burke was subsequently jailed in September for breaching a court order that prevented him from attending the school while a disciplinary process was carried out. He also refused to purge his contempt of court. 

Burke was released from prison shortly before Christmas 2022 despite continuing to refuse to purge his contempt of court. High Court judge Justice Brian O'Moore said he ordered his release as he believed Burke was "exploiting his imprisonment for his own ends."

However, Burke continued to defy the court order after his release by showing up at the school when the term resumed in January, prompting Justice Brian O'Moore to impose a fine of €700 for every day that he attended the school.

Burke accrued fines of €88,900 before the end of the academic year, according to the Irish Independent. 

In May 2023, the High Court ruled that Wilson's Hospital School behaved lawfully when it suspended Burke the year prior. The court also dismissed Burke's claims that the disciplinary process against him was in breach of his constitutional rights. 

Two months later, the High Court ordered Burke to pay legal costs to Wilson's Hospital School. Delivering the ruling, Justice Alexander Owens also issued an order preventing Burke from trespassing on the premises of the school, although the order does not prevent Burke from standing outside the school gates. 

The following month, Burke returned to the school for the first day of the new school year to continue his protest. At the time, he was liable for more than €140,000 in fines for breach of court orders.

Burke was remanded into custody in September 2023 for continuing to defy the court injunction ordering him to stay away from the school and remained in Mountjoy Prison until his release today, June 28.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Burke said: "My liberty's been robbed from me for two long years. Two years of my life have been taken away.

"And yet, they're letting me out, but it's not dealing with the issue, and that is the issue that must be dealt with. That is the issue that must be dealt with.

"That's the reason why I was in prison. That's the reason why we have courts is that they deal with those issues and they determine was it just that I was put in prison, or was I not.

"Do we have constitutional rights in this country or do we not?

"They are not dealing with it, they're obfuscating.

"A decision should have been made about today, instead, it's pushed on. At the end, he let slip that he's not going to decide on the matter properly."