A 66-year-old Cork woman has been jailed for the weekend for her defiance in refusing to wear a mask in court.
Margaret Buttimer of The Cottage, St Fintan’s Road, Bandon appeared before Clonakilty District Court earlier this week for refusing to wear a mask at Dunnes Stores in the town on February 12th.
She was found guilty of the offence of not wearing a mask in breach of Covid-19 regulations.
Judge Colm Roberts was told that Ms Buttimer abused the store manager when he asked her if there was a medical reason why she was not wearing a face covering.
Ms Buttimer refused to answer the manager’s queries before eventually telling him that she only answered to God.
Management at the store contacted gardaí. Ms Buttimer became agitated and called manager Gary Emerson an “asshole”.
Gardaí arrived at the scene, and she informed them that she was only answerable to God. She refused to provide her details and declined to wear a mask when she was brought to a garda station.
She told the court she did not believe in masks but that she was sorry for calling the manager a name and hoped he would find it in his heart to forgive her.
The case had been adjourned until Friday to give Ms Buttimer an opportunity to reflect on her behaviour.
Judge Colm Roberts said he was confused by her behaviour as she was a “pleasant woman”. However, he said she seemed to have a need for attention.
Ms Buttimer arrived at the sitting of Bandon District Court on Friday without wearing a mask.
Judge Roberts said that the last thing he wanted to do was jail Ms Buttimer for contempt.
“This is not funny. I don’t think you are appreciating the seriousness of this,” he said.
“She has created a situation where I have no other option. She is undermining the rules of the court and the country. Her viewpoint makes no logical sense. Her partner wears a mask and he is concerned about her.
“If she wants to be released [FROM CUSTODY)]she will have to put a mask on. I am concerned about her decision-making.”
The judge said that Ms Buttimer had turned up in the body of the court “without a mask, but worse still a smile on her face as if this is something to laugh about”.
Ms Buttimer was an “enigma” and her family were deeply concerned about her, the judge said. He found her to be in contempt of court and remanded her in custody for the weekend.
She will appear before Bandon District Court again on Monday for sentencing.
The judge said Ms Buttimer was moving from defiance to “openly challenging the courts and the country”.
Defence solicitor Plunkett Taaffe said that he was conscious of the age of his client. Mr Taaffe emphasised that Ms Buttimer’s family were concerned about her.
He spoke briefly to his client at the end of her case. She did not put on a mask and was remanded in custody for the weekend.
She will also appear in court in relation to other similar charges on June 14th.
The judge told her she was entitled to her relationship with God, but not to the detriment of society.