High Court reporters
Dismissed teacher Enoch Burke is to be fined €700 for every day he refuses to comply with a court order to stay away from Wilson's Hospital School, the High Court has ruled.
Mr Justice Brian O'Moore said he was giving Mr Burke, who was dismissed from the school last week following a disciplinary hearing, until this Friday to decide if he wishes to comply with the injunction granted last September directing to stay away from the Co Westmeath School.
Wilson's Hospital has asked the judge to consider either sequestering or removing Mr Burke's assets or fining him over his refusal to comply with the order since the start of the new school term on January 5th.
Mr Justice O'Moore in his decision said that in light of the ongoing refusal a daily fine was "the correct response". The judge said the daily fine of €700, or €4,900 per week, is to be imposed on Mr Burke.
That fine would commence from this Friday.
This figure should persuade Mr Burke to end his utterly pointless attendance at a school that does not want him at its property, the judge said.
If the fine does not have the desired effect, it can always be increased, the judge added.
The judge agreed that returning Mr Burke to prison was "not an ideal situation."
The judge said that the matter will be reviewed on February 10th next.
The school had argued that in breach of the court order. Mr Burke had returned to the school's campus on January 5th following the resumption of classes after the Christmas vacation.
Mr Burke was told by senior staff at the school that he was in breach of a court order, and should not be there, counsel said. Mr Burke replied that he was "here to teach."
Mr Burke remained in a corridor in the school, and that the school's Principal and Deputy Principal set up a workstation in the corridor to ensure that there was minimum disruption at the school.
The school said it did not want to see Mr Burke returned to prison and asked the court to sequester Mr Burke's assets, arising out of his "wilful refusal" to comply with the court's orders or fine him for his ongoing contempt.
Mr Burke had opposed the application, claiming he has done nothing wrong, and says the granting of such a "preposterous" and manifestly flawed order against would breach his constitutional rights.
Mr Burke's refusal to comply with the order resulted in him being jailed for contempt for 108 days last year.
He was released from Mountjoy Prison last December, without purging his contempt.
He was previously warned by Mr Justice O'Moore that his liberty depended on his compliance with the order to stay away from the school.
During his submissions he criticised the school's decision to instigate the disciplinary proceedings against him, which he claims centres around the school's request to call a student by a different name and using the pronoun "they".
He said the orders against him were an attempt to criminalise his religious beliefs including his opposition to transgenderism.