66-year-old woman receives suspended sentence and fine for not wearing mask in-store

Some 40 supporters applauded the woman as she left courthouse



25 May 2021

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A 66-year-old woman has received a suspended sentence and a fine following her refusal to wear a face mask in a Dunnes Stores outlet.

Following a hearing at Bandon District Court on Friday, Margaret Buttimer was jailed for the weekend but was allowed to leave yesterday, despite appearing in court without wearing a mask.

She was brought to court following her refusal to wear a mask at Dunnes Stores in Clonakilty, Co Cork, on 12 February.

Judge Colm Roberts heard that Ms Buttimer had abused the store manager in Dunnes when asked if there was a medical reason why she wasn’t wearing a face covering. She reportedly called the store manager an “asshole”.

The judge also noted that the woman was not wearing a mask in court and said to her solicitor: “Ask her to reflect on her position. She is seriously limiting her position and the options this court has to deal with this case.

“I do not want to see her going to prison,” he added. “Masks are an essential requirement in dealing with this virus. Science very strikingly shows this.”

However, Ms Buttimer, who is a mother of two and grandmother, declined to give a reassurance that she would start wearing masks in shops and said she was “only answerable to God”.

Her solicitor said she had an “entrenched” belief that that the wearing of a mask represented a “gross intrusion of her freedom”.

Based on her lack of previous convictions and age, Judge Roberts imposed a three-week prison sentence which he suspended for a period of two years. He also fined Ms Buttimer €350 for verbally abusing the store manager.

The Irish Independent reports that Ms Buttimer left the court to applause from up to 40 supporters who told her she was “brave” for taking a stand.

She is due to appear in court again in relation to other similar charges on 14 June.



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