Defence Forces launch investigation into 'Barber at army barracks'

Donal O'Regan


Donal O'Regan


Defence Forces launch investigation into 'Barber at army barracks'

IF YOU badly needed a short, back and sides it seems the place to try was an army barracks - and it only cost a fiver.

The Defence Forces has launched an investigation into an army barber continuing to cut hair. 

A whistleblower contacted the Limerick Leader after reading a story about Deputy Cathal Crowe giving the hairdryer treatment to the “barber black market”. 

"I find it mind boggling that people can be so selfish and careless when we’re seeing the daily death toll from Covid-19,” said Deputy Crowe.

The whistleblower - a member of the Defence Forces – said from Monday, April 2, the barber shop within Custume Barracks, Athlone, has been “opened intermittently, often with queues outside and no health and safety changes made to the interior”. 

“All ranks have been using this service. The barber is a serving soldier. It’s only €5 a cut. If they deny it the barber’s name is (he names a soldier),” said the whistleblower.

He contacted the Limerick Leader to highlight this because “my young son has an underlying condition and I don't want to put him at risk”.

“I read your interview with Deputy Cathal Crowe online and this is why I am emailing you. Are the Defence Forces exempt from the government's guidelines? I can not ask these questions myself,” said the whistleblower.

The Limerick Leader put these charges to the Defence Forces Press Office. A spokesperson said: “As a result of these queries the Defence Forces has initiated an investigation into the matters raised.”

Since the Limerick Leader put in the media query the whistleblower said: “It has all stopped.”

Separately, a member of the public contacted our Glentworth Street office on Sunday to say a barber was brazenly operating in County Limerick.

“I was pulled up in a car on the street while herself went into the shops. It was last Friday about 2pm. While I was waiting I saw one fella knock on the door. The barber came to the door, unlocked it, let them in and locked it again. The barber wasn’t wearing gloves. Then I saw another fella do the exact same thing. Four in total went in – all young fellows - while I was waiting. I couldn’t believe it,” said the man, who contacted the Leader because it made him angry.

“There hasn’t been much coronavirus around here thankfully but this could cause a cluster. It is putting people at risk. It is so selfish. It is only going to be another few weeks or a month. I’m cutting my own hair at home and it is diabolical but at least I am not putting anybody at risk, except myself!” he said. 

The Leader contacted the Garda Press Office with details of the exact location in County Limerick.

A spokesperson said An Garda Síochána does not comment on individual cases.

“Instances of hairdressers opening in contravention of the regulations is not something that has been reported to gardaí in (the location) and anyone who has information in relation to this practice is asked to report this in the interests of public health,” said the spokesperson.

They said where potential breaches of the Public Health Regulations are identified, and where a person does not come into compliance with the regulations, a file is submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a direction as to how to proceed. 

“It is for a judge of the district court to decide on any actually penalty following a conviction,” said the spokesperson.