A judge has jailed a 66-year-old grandmother for breaching bail conditions after she was found out shopping for Christmas presents without a face mask.

Margaret Buttimer, of St Fintan’s Road, Bandon, Co Cork, was arrested by gardaí and brought before Bandon District Court after entering Dunnes Stores in Clonakilty on Monday.

Ms Buttimer was last month ordered by a District Court judge to stay away from shops and other places where the public gathers because of her refusal to wear a mask under Covid-19 rules. She has been arrested previously and come before the courts on several occasions because of her refusal to wear a mask in shops and restaurants.

She was remanded in custody until Friday. She was jailed for 90 days in July for refusing to wear a mask while out shopping.

Ms Buttimer told Judge Colm Roberts that she went into Dunnes Stores “to do my Christmas shopping because I have nothing got for Christmas”. She said that she needed to buy presents for her grandchildren.

She said she did not shop online and refused to wear a face mask because she felt it was “taking from my freedom”.

‘I take each day as it comes’

Asked by the judge why she decided to go shopping regardless of the bail conditions, Ms Buttimer said that she wanted to do her Christmas shopping.

“I take each day as it comes. That was today,” she said.

Plunkett Taaffe, solicitor for Ms Buttimer, asked her how she felt about the possibility of depriving her children and grandchildren of her company over Christmas over her refusal to wear a face mask.

“I am doing it for myself,” replied Ms Buttimer, who did not wear a mask in court.

The judge likened the Covid-19 regulations on face masks to wearing a seat belt to protect herself in case she crashes into something, or someone hits her, and also because it was the law. Ms Buttimer agreed that wearing a seat belt did not take away her freedom.

The judge told her if she remained “defiant” she was putting him “in an impossible situation” where he has no other option but to refuse bail.

“I cannot have you putting other people in danger and blatantly breaching court orders. It would be sending a message that court orders mean nothing,” he said. “I am very sad to do this but I have no option.”

The judge asked Ms Buttimer to reflect on his remarks until she appears before him again. He said that she is entitled to her views, but not to the detriment of public health.

“You need to think about that for your own sake,” he said.

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