School seeks to amend court documents used as part of action against Enoch Burke

Court told two factual inaccuracies in documents sworn on behalf of the school had come to light since Thursday evening
School seeks to amend court documents used as part of action against Enoch Burke

A school bus passes as Enoch Burke speaks to media after leaving Wilson’s Hospital School in Heathland, Co Westmeath, on Friday. Picture: Sasko Lazarov /

Wilson's Hospital secondary school has told the High Court it wishes to correct certain statements made in a document it is relying on as part of its ongoing legal action against teacher Enoch Burke.

Mr Burke and the school have been engaged in a court battle after he claims he was wrongfully suspended, before being dismissed from his job last week in a row over his objections to referring to a student at the school who wishes to transition as a 'they' rather than a 'he'.

The school suspended him and a later disciplinary process dismissed the teacher.

In a brief application before Mr Justice Conor Dignam at the High Court on Friday, Alex White SC, with Rosemary Mallon Bl, for the school, said that two factual inaccuracies in documents sworn on behalf of the school had come to light since Thursday evening.

The inaccuracies were contained in a statement supporting the school's case against Mr Burke that was sworn by the chairperson of the school's board of management, John Rogers.

While these matters needed to be addressed by way of a corrective affidavit, counsel said that the issues in question do not affect any of the orders previously granted by the court, including last September's injunction requiring Mr Burke to stay away and not attempt to teach at the Co Westmeath school.

Mr Burke was not present in court on Friday. He was not made aware of the school's application in advance, counsel said.

Counsel said that the matters that need to be addressed by the school are that it had been previously stated that a meeting last year at Wilson's Hospital concerning the wishes of a student who wishes to transition had been attended by that student's parents, where a request was made that the student be referred to by a different pronoun and name than before.

This is incorrect, counsel said, as the meeting had only been attended by one of the student's parents.

In addition, counsel said, that it had been stated that the meeting had also been attended by the school's then principal Niamh McShane.

This was also inaccurate.

Counsel said that two other staff members were present for the duration of that meeting while the principal, who was aware of the meeting, was only in attendance for a brief period.

However, counsel said that the school will fully inform Mr Burke of its application to correct the inaccuracies before the matter returns before the court.

Mr Justice Dignam, who said it was right that the school seek to correct these errors in the manner proposed, adjourned the application to Tuesday's sitting of the court.

The school's application came as the deadline given to Mr Burke by Mr Justice Brian O'Moore to purge his contempt or face being fined €700 for every day he refuses to comply with the court order to stay away from the school passed.

Mr Burke, who attended at the school on Friday morning, did not make any formal contact with the court indicating that he would comply.

The contempt of court ruling and the issue of legal costs in the dispute are due to be reviewed by the court on February 10 next.

Mr Burke's appeal against various High Court decisions made against him is due to be heard by the Court of Appeal next month.

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