A teacher who refused to use gender-neutral pronouns for a transgender student has been sent to Mountjoy prison for contempt of court.
Enoch Burke was arrested yesterday morning for breaching a court order not to teach at his Westmeath school, or be physically present there.
After Judge Michael Quinn made his ruling, Mr Burke said: ‘It is insanity that I will be led from this courtroom to a place of incarceration, but I will not give up my Christian beliefs.’
Counsel for Wilson’s Hospital School’s board of management said it was with a ‘heavy heart’ that it sought Mr Burke’s committal to prison, but she said her client had been left with no choice as Mr Burke continued to attend the school, despite the court order which it had obtained last week.
The dispute began over his refusal to address a transitioning student as ‘they’ rather than ‘he’, as requested by the student and their parents in May, and agreed to by the Church of Ireland school.
This escalated to his suspension on the day before the start of the autumn term, pending the outcome of a disciplinary process.
He had refused to remain away from the school on paid leave for that suspension, the court heard, and would sit in an empty classroom, declaring that he was there to work.