A woman who opted not to receive the Covid-19 vaccine is to go on trial next Monday for allegedly flouting the Government's pandemic guidelines by not wearing a face mask whilst shopping in West Cork.
Margaret Buttimer (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.
On Monday 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 on Monday, July 12th.
The most recent alleged offence 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 would not 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 25th.
Inspector Emmet Daly said there was no desire on the part of gardaí to have the defendant in custody, but that her offending was not stopping.
He added there was consent to bail in the case if the family of Ms Buttimer were confident she will not 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 Denis already had his hands full in caring for his elderly grandmother.
The family vowed not to leave her out of their sight if she was granted bail in the case and Mr Taaffe indicated that the family of the defendant had perceived a noticeable change in her in recent times.
Judge McNulty said he was still without medical reports in relation to Ms Buttimer and Mr Taaffe confirmed they were being prepared. Judge McNulty asked if Ms Buttimer had been vaccinated and was told that she had not.
The judge stressed that Ms 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. She is persisting in offending in a way that puts people at risk."
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, adding 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 did not believe in the Covid restrictions and that she was only answerable to God. Ms Buttimer is without previous convictions.