Woman (66) pleads guilty to breaches of Covid-19 regulations

Court hears Margaret Buttimer refused to wear a mask on two separate occasions

A 66-year-old grandmother, who told gardaí she didn’t believe in Covid-19 restrictions, has been remanded on bail after she pleaded guilty to two breaches of pandemic regulations.

Margaret Buttimer from The Cottage, St Fintan's Road, Bandon, Co Cork appeared before Bandon District Court charged with two breaches at two premises in Bandon on separate dates last month.

She was charged with refusing to wear a mask at Boots Pharmacy, South Main Street, Bandon, on May 12th and with refusing to wear a mask at Aldi, Glaslyn Road, Bandon, two days later.

The charges allege Ms Buttimer contravened a provision under Section 31A (1) of the Public Health Act 1947 as amended by 2020 legislation to prevent, limit, minimise or slow the spread of Covid-19 by refusing to wear a face covering.

Insp Emmet Daly told the court Ms Buttimer attended Boots Pharmacy in Bandon on May 12th and was asked by staff to wear a mask. She was offered a mask by staff members but refused to do so.

Gardai were called and advised her to wear a mask but she again refused to do and was arrested.

Two days later, Ms Buttimer was asked to leave Aldi in Bandon because she was not wearing a mask, Gardaí were again called and she told officers she did not believe in Covid 19 regulations.

She left the shop with gardaí but then made several attempts to re-enter the premises without a mask and was arrested, said Insp Daly.

Defence solicitor Plunkett Taaffe said his client was pleading guilty but he sought an adjournment. Mr Taaffe said there was some concern about her health and he believed that a medical report might help shed some light on her circumstances.

Judge James McNulty agreed to Mr Taaffe’s application for an adjournment to allow Ms Buttimer to be medically assessed and he remanded her on bail to appear again on July 12th.

Asked by Judge McNulty if Ms Buttimer had any previous convictions, Insp Daly said she was convicted on May 24th of not wearing a mask in Dunnes Stores in Clonakilty on February 12th and was given a three week suspended sentence.

She was also convicted of engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour to a store manager who asked her if there was a medical reason for not wearing a mask and was fined €350 .

Judge McNulty asked if Ms Buttimer had paid the €350 fine and Mr Taaffe said he did not believe that she had.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times