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Enoch Burke wants 'promoter of transgenderism' off appeals panel

Enoch Burke wants 'promoter of transgenderism' off appeals panel
Enoch Burke court case, ยฉ PA Wire/PA Images

Teacher Enoch Burke claims the inclusion of what he calls “a promoter of transgenderism" on a panel to hear his appeal over his dismissal means his case will not be dealt with in a neutral and unbiased way.

Mr Burke, whose dismissal from Wilson's Hospital School in Westmeath has been stayed pending the appeal, says Kieran Christie, general secretary of Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) should be excluded, or recuse himself, from the appeals panel because he has supported the transgender ideology since 2016.

Mr Christie has strongly denied the claims and says Mr Burke has wrongly based his claim of bias from the fact that Mr Christie has accepted the law of the land on gender recognition.

On Tuesday Mr Burke made arguments in his High Court action against the Disciplinary Appeals Panel seeking a declaration that the inclusion of Mr Christie was unfair, unreasonable and unlawful.

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There was one brief interruption in the proceedings when Mr Burke’s sister Ammi and mother Martina complained about a comment made by counsel for the appeals panel. The judge rose briefly but returned after less than five minutes and the hearing resumed.

Sworn statement

Mr Burke claims a sworn statement by Mr Christie that a person's "gender identity and biological sex may not necessarily be the same thing" means he supports transgenderism.

Less than six months after his appointment in 2016, Mr Christie had quickly adopted a "radical campaigning role" on transgenderism, he said.

This was when Mr Christie wrote in the ASTI members' magazine "ASTIR" that the "most important" session of a just held ASTI seminar was an address by a representative of the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) group.

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By 2017, the relationship with TENI had become more formal when the deputy general secretary agreed to sit on TENI's education advisory group, Mr Burke said.

A body which was supposed to be standing up for the rights of teachers was now "joining hands with a radical organisation" in which it is a bedfellow and accomplice of a group which is "going to roll out this (transgender) ideology from the top down", he said.

The ASTI was a member of what Mr Burke called the radical Children's Rights Alliance which in 2018 made a "very disturbing recommendation" that legislation should be introduced allowing children over 16 to change their gender without their parents' consent, he said.

The Alliance also recommended that under-16s should be allowed to apply for recognition of their preferred gender.

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These recommendations were made under Mr Christie's tenure, and he was "going out to bat for a radical gender ideology which will strip the rights of parents to raise their 5,6 and 7-year-olds and set them out on gender mutilation and a path of tragedy".

Mr Burke said ASTI’s “appalling prejudice” was demonstrated by advice given in a newspaper interview by its deputy general secretary Diarmuid de Paor last September saying parents should support their children if they wanted to use the pronoun “they” rather than he or she.

Padraic Lyons SC, with Hugh McDowell BL, for the appeals panel, said Mr Burke failed to show there has been any statement made by Mr Christie that would demonstrate prejudice, hostility or dislike or that any position taken by ASTI would effectively decide the appeal.

In relation to Mr De Paor's newspaper interview, counsel said this was about a general issue in schools and was not about Mr Burke.

Mr Burke was wrong in his claim that Mr Christie's bias was also demonstrated in May this year when he presented an ASTI achievement award to a teacher because of her “commitment to supporting LGBTI+ students”.

Evidence

This was one of a number of awards ASTI gives out "all the time", he said. In 2023 alone, there had been 15 such awards.

At that point, Mr Burke interjected to say there was no evidence of this and what counsel was saying was absolutely disgraceful. His sister Ammi, who was sitting behind him in court alongside their mother, also interrupted to say the court was permitting lies. Martina Burke stated a couple of times that “the robe does not cover up the lies".

Mr Justice Conor Dignam rose without comment but returned in less than five minutes and the hearing resumed.

Mr Lyons said Mr Burke’s claims about ASTI inviting TENI to a seminar, or about its deputy general secretary sitting on TENI’s education committee strained credulity.

In relation to his Children’s Rights Alliance claims, he said ASTI was one of around 100 members of that body and ASTI did not have any input into its submission in relation to gender law changes, he said.

Mr Justice Dignam reserved his decision.

High Court reporters

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