A woman charged with failing to follow public health advice appeared before court without a mask and told the judge she was doing so because "I feel it is my freedom is being taken".
Margaret Buttimer, of the Cottage, St Fintan's Rd, Bandon in Co Cork, had been released on bail following an earlier court appearance, the terms of which included that she comply with public health restrictions.
Judge Colm Roberts noted that in court Ms Buttimer, 66, was not wearing a mask and said: "If you are in breach of bail, your bail can be revoked."
Ms Buttimer is facing a charge of not wearing a mask at Dunnes Stores, Clonakilty, on February 12. Sgt Paul Kelly said gardaí were awaiting directions on the matter from the DPP.
Sgt Kelly said he wanted to bring to the court's attention that Ms Buttimer could be further reprimanded for the alleged non-wearing of a mask in SuperValu in Bandon last Monday, with Judge Roberts claiming she could be facing further charges arising out of any possible breach of bail conditions.
Sgt Kelly said Ms Buttimer had received "numerous warnings" from the court and that he believed the most recent alleged incident in SuperValu was not the first time staff there had asked her to wear a mask.
Judge Roberts queried whether Ms Buttimer had previously suggested she may have a medical reason for refusing to wear a mask but she denied this and said: "I feel it is my freedom is being taken."
The judge said as Ms Buttimer was representing herself, he would allow her to not wear a mask in court but having heard she was on a welfare payment, he granted her legal aid and said she might be found in contempt of court if she appears without a mask on the next occasion and when she has legal representation.
Once a solicitor was appointed to Ms Buttimer, the matter was adjourned until May 4 for a plea or to fix a date for hearing.