September 12, 2022 | Irish Examiner

The case of Enoch Burke and how media coverage can play into the hands of extremists

ISD Senior Analyst Ciarán O’Connor wrote an op-ed for the Irish Examiner about the case of Enoch Burke and how national and international media might be playing into the hands of extremist groups.

Burke is a teacher in Ireland who was arrested after going back to school grounds repeatedly, despite being suspended and on paid administrative leave. Burke’s suspension came as a result of allegedly disrupting numerous school events and harassing the principal over a request in May to all staff to call a transgender student by their preferred pronouns. At the time, Burke refused to accept the request saying it went against his beliefs and “amounted to an ‘abuse of children'”, and instead took upon himself to ask, in a very public manner, for the request to be withdrawn. The principal proceeded to file a report to the school’s board of management over ‘serious concerns’ about his conduct at a public school function, leading to his suspension. Burke refused to accept the suspension and continued to go back to school, and was eventually arrested because of this.

In the article, Ciarán focuses on the irresponsible, sensational nature behind headlines and media coverage of the case. Outlets have chosen to frame Burke as a martyr, a teacher who was suspended following his refusal to refer to a student by their chosen pronouns. The reality is that the arrest is only related to Burke’s actions after the request – one that is legally respected by law.

The coverage has been deeply misleading and many now believe he was jailed for his refusal to use they/them pronouns.

The full article is available here.