“Report me, or jail me, or stop me” — Limerick hair salon owner vows to provide “essential” free haircuts for clients, despite Level 5 restrictions

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Niall Colgan

THE owner of an award-winning Limerick hair salon has vowed to provide what he believes are “essential haircuts” at his premises, despite Level 5 restrictions on non essential businesses remaining in place.

“Report me, or jail me, or stop me, or whatever you want to do, but there are, in some instances, hairdressing services which we deem essential and they need to take place now,” Niall Colgan, owner of Niall Colgan Hairdressing, O’Callaghan Strand, Limerick said in a video, posted to his thousands of social media followers on Facebook and Instagram.

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Mr Colgan said he has “stuck religiously to every single guideline” since March 2020, but announced he was “returning to the salon this week to do a few hair cuts on clients that I am deeming essential”.

When asked if he was advocating for hair salons to be included as an essential service during the pandemic, the well-known hair stylist replied: “No, I’m not. This pandemic is very, very, serious and these strains are very serious, and we are following all of the guidelines given to us by the government.”

Mr Colgan argued that “a small amount” of clients – who have specific health conditions impacting their hair and their mental health – should be allowed “essential haircuts” at his salon.

He said he did not intend to open his premises to the general public, but he would press ahead with plans to provide “private appointments” at his salon to clients suffering with conditions, including Trichotillomania, Alopecia, as well as those who have been impacted by chemotherapy.

“I consider this to be essential and I’m not going to charge a fee to anyone, this is going to be complimentary,” Mr Colgan said.

“I certainly don’t think salons should be open, I think all salons should be closed, the (covid case) numbers are too high and too scary, but I’m trying to provide a haircut to a very small amount of people who are in need of this service essentially.”

Mr Colgan said during these private appointments, only he and the client would be in the salon therefore avoiding the potential for large numbers gathering at his premises, and he would follow all guidelines around washing hands, wearing face masks, and using hand sanitiser.

Mr Colgan said he was “not trying to be controversial”, adding that if gardai were to call to his premises during one of these private appointments, he would “have no choice” but to obey the direction of gardai.

“I’ve got to accept whatever happens; If the gardai tell me to stop and shut it down then I have no choice.”

“There’s no masterplan, this is just about highlighting the fact that there are people out there that essentially need their hair done, it’s as simple as that.”

Mr Colgan said he had received widespread support from people who had watched his video.

“I’m just a human being that want’s to help another human being and I’ve got the wherewithal to do it. There are people that need (my) help, and that’s it.”

A number of clients with medical conditions who have “struggled” during lockdown contacted him asking him for help regarding their hair after they were approached by hairdressers offering to give them haircuts in their homes, he said.

Mr Colgan suggested the HSE might look into providing “a medical unit to provide a controlled environment” to allow certain people to receive what he called “essential haircuts” by a qualified hairdresser.