A pensioner who opted not to receive the Covid-19 vaccine is to go on trial next Monday for allegedly flouting government pandemic guidelines by not wearing a face mask whilst shopping in west Cork.
Margaret Buttimer, aged 66, of The Cottage, St Fintan's Road, Bandon, Co Cork, spent the weekend in Limerick Prison after she failed to keep the terms of her bail which involved her staying away from shops and other premises frequented by members of the public.
Today at Bandon District Court Ms Buttimer pleaded not guilty to her two most recent alleged breaches of the Public Health Act. She opted to go on trial for the offences with the case being heard next Monday.
The most recent alleged offence carried out by Ms Buttimer occurred at SuperValu in the Riverview Shopping Centre in Bandon at 9.50am last Thursday.
Ms Buttimer allegedly entered the supermarket without a mask in an incident which her solicitor Plunkett Taaffe said involved her "going AWOL” after promising her family she wouldn't go shopping.
Her son and her partner had agreed to supervise her and to keep her at home while she was out on bail on another similar charge which allegedly occurred in SuperValu in the town on June 25.
Inspector Emmet Daly said that there was no desire on the part of gardaí to have the defendant in custody but that her offending was not stopping.
He added that there was consent to bail in the case if the family of Miss Buttimer were confident that she wouldn't reoffend.
Mr Taaffe, said Mrs Buttimer's son Denis had the responsibility of being a carer for his 93-year-old grandmother in addition to dealing with the situation with his mother.
However, he planned to increase his efforts even further to assist his mother in the event of her being granted bail.
Judge James McNulty said that Denis already had his hands full in caring for his elderly grandmother.
Ms Buttimer's partner and son were in the body of the court for the hearing.
The family vowed not to leave her out of their sight if she was granted bail in the case.
Mr Taaffe indicated that the family of the defendant had perceived a noticeable change in her in recent times.
Judge McNulty said he that he was still without medical reports in relation to Ms Buttimer; Mr Taaffe confirmed that they were being prepared.
Judge McNulty asked if Ms Buttimer had been vaccinated and was told that she had not.
He stressed that Buttimer was an unvaccinated person with "no inclination to stop" her offending behaviour.
"She seems to show no intention of stopping. She has been treated kindly and with care by successive judges."
Judge McNulty said that in the absence of medical evidence he couldn't indulge in "sympathetic speculation” as to whether there might be a medical cause for the behaviour of the pensioner.
He remanded Ms Buttimer in custody until her trial in Bandon next Monday saying that whilst he was acutely aware of depriving her of her liberty his primary concern had to be the health of others.
Ms Buttimer has previously been convicted of breaching the public health Covid guidelines arising out of an incident in Clonakilty in February.
In June she pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to wear a mask while in shops in Bandon on two dates in May.
Ms Buttimer has a suspended sentence arising from the first incident, while she was convicted of the two later offences. Sentencing was adjourned on the two later offences until next Monday.
She has been jailed for the weekend on two occasions for her offences.
The court previously heard that Ms Buttimer told gardaí that she didn't believe in the Covid restrictions and that she was only answerable to God.
Ms Buttimer is without previous convictions.