Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Fiachra Gallagher

The Burke family are back in the headlines following chaotic scenes at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday.

BreakingNews.ie has taken a closer look at the notorious family.

Enoch Burke

Enoch is the best-known of the Burkes by virtue his long-running dispute with Wilson’s Hospital School, a Co Westmeath secondary school and his former employer.

The saga began in the summer of last year, when Enoch publicly challenged then-principal of the school Niamh McShane on an earlier instruction to teachers to address a transitioning pupil by a new chosen name, and by the pronouns ‘they/them’.

Enoch was ultimately suspended on full pay due to the alleged misconduct. The school then secured orders from the High Court, prohibiting him from attending or teaching Wilson’s Hospital School. When he refused to abide by these orders, he was sent to Mountjoy Prison for contempt of court.

Over 100 days later, Enoch was released — despite refusing to purge (end) his contempt of court. Mr Justice Brian O’Moore came to the conclusion that the teacher was “exploiting his imprisonment for his own ends”.

But Enoch returned to Wilson’s School after Christmas.

Weeks later, he was sacked officially following a disciplinary process. This didn’t prevent him from continuing to arrive at the school, and take up vigil outside an entrance to school building daily.

He still maintains that he should be allowed to teach at the school, and is continuing to pursue reinstatement through the courts. On Tuesday, his appeal against orders obtained by Wilson’s Hospital prohibiting him from entering the school failed.

Ammi Burke

Ammi, a sister of Enoch’s, is a qualified solicitor and former employee of top law firm Arthur Cox.

She made headlines last year when her unfair dismissals case against her former employer was thrown out by the Workplace Relations Commission.

Repeated interruptions by Ammi’s mother, Martina, prevented an April 2022 hearing from proceeding for more than five hours, and prompted a senior counsel to label the Burke family “a travelling circus” — something Ammi claimed was defamatory.

Simeon Burke

Simeon Burke was arrested and charged with a breach of the peace on Tuesday following chaotic scenes at the Court of Appeal.

Those in the student politics circles at the University of Galway — and indeed, the wider student community — will be familiar with Simeon. He unsuccessfully ran for president of the university’s student union — receiving a total of 104 votes — although not without first causing considerable controversy.

Simeon presented himself as an alternative to leftist politics typical of student campuses, using the campaign slogan “For the many, not the mob”.

He accused various people of cyber-bullying him during the campaign, including MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan.

He also made a complaint against People Before Profit-Solidarity TD Paul Murphy, after the politician retweeted a social media post about Simeon that was later found to be in breach of NUI Galway’s student code of conduct.

Jemima Burke

Jemima is a graduate of journalism, and her reporting has appeared in regional newspapers such as the Connaught Telegraph.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Jemima Burke attended a daily press conference held by then-Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan, claiming to represent the Western News, a defunct publication. Her microphone was turned off after aggressive questioning of the CMO.

Jemima was also present at the inquest of Sally Maaz, a young woman who died after contracting Covid-19. Jemima, along with mother Martina and brother Josiah, was removed from the sitting at Swinford Courthouse after heckling Coroner Pat O’Connor, who returned a verdict of death by natural causes.

Elijah Burke

Elijah Burke made headlines last year when the Supreme Court ruled that he, along with another homeschooled student, were unlawfully excluded from the 2020 Leaving Cert calculated grades scheme imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Martina Burke

The matriarch of the Burke family, Martina is a schoolteacher.

She homeschooled her 10 children, and has been described as the driving force behind the family’s unwavering religious convictions.

Martina has long espoused strong anti-LGBTQ+ views, calling into local radio stations and holding placards outside Leinster House to air such opinions.

Sean Burke

An electrician and native of Castlerea, Co Roscommon, Sean — father of Enoch and husband to Martina — is probably best known for driving his son Enoch to school every morning, travelling from Castlebar, Co Mayo to Multyfarnham in Co Westmeath and back again.

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