Enoch Burke was not permitted back into court on Tuesday afternoon when his case resumed at the High Court.
When the court resumed at 2pm, Mr Burke stayed outside the courtroom. A registrar of the court offered him the code for the video link to the proceedings but he declined and said he wanted to address the judge.
His sister Ammi then came out of the courtroom and asked for her brother to be admitted. At a later stage, his mother and brother came out and after having discussions among themselves, they walked out of the Four Courts building.
When theasked them if they were going to return to court, they did not answer and walked down the street away from the Four Courts building. It was unclear whether they were going to join the proceedings by video link.
Earlier, Mr Burke did not accept a ruling made by the judge in relation to concerns he had raised regarding discovery of documents, and the entirety of the mornings’ proceedings was taken up with these matters rather than the case getting properly under way.
Mr Justice Alexander Owens at one stage suggested to Mr Burke that he was “making a fool” of himself and had “wasted a day” of the trial with “stupid arguments”.
The judge also suggested he would “test the patience of Job”. If anyone else interrupts the case in the afternoon, he said, they may also be removed from the courtroom.
Today, Tuesday, marked the first day of the full hearing of the case of Mr Burke vs Wilson’s Hospital School over disciplinary proceedings which resulted in his suspension from work.
Proceedings got under way with Mr Burke raising what he termed a matter “of extreme importance” as he claimed some of the documents he received from solicitors acting for Wilson’s Hospital School had been “tampered with”.
He said the case could not proceed without a ruling from the judge in this regard.
Mr Justice Owens did not accept the contention that documents had been “tampered with” and said he would not accept it until he heard from the other side.
He ruled against Mr Burke, and said the case could proceed and issues related to discovery could be addressed during the trial.
Mr Burke said he could not proceed on this basis, and the court, at length, heard arguments he was making in relation to these issues.
Mr Justice Owens told Mr Burke he had two options — “to participate in the trial or simply leave”.
“I’ve no intention of leaving this case,” Mr Burke replied, to which the judge said: “Then please obey the rulings of the court."
Mark Connaughton SC, for the school, told the court it was “dealing with somebody who will not behave properly in court”.
“He will not allow this case run properly in court,” he said.
Mr Justice Owens told Mr Burke he would not be allowed back into court after lunch, and that he would have to “behave himself” should he be let back in.
“I will not direct he be arrested,” he said. “I will direct he not be permitted to return to the court.
"You’ve been in contempt of court for an hour and a half, two hours. I’m afraid it’s bye bye to you."
Mr Burke was suspended from the Co Westmeath secondary school last year, and was the subject of High Court injunction, which was put in place pending the outcome of the full hearing of the dispute, over his failure to comply with the terms of his suspension which required him to stay away from the school while he was on administrative leave.
His continued refusal to comply with those orders resulted in him being found in contempt of court and his incarceration for 108 days. Following his release from prison, he has continued to breach the injunction and has been subjected to a daily fine of €700.
Mr Burke was also dismissed by the school following a disciplinary hearing. That decision is currently under appeal.
Mr Burke denies any wrongdoing and says his suspension arises out of his opposition to transgenderism and a direction by the school to refer to a student who wishes to transition by a different pronoun.
In a counterclaim, he says the disciplinary process against him should be set aside and that it breaches his constitutional rights, including his right to freedom of expression of his religious beliefs.
The school says it was fully entitled to bring disciplinary proceedings against the teacher, and rejects any wrongdoing.