It's emerged that the chaplain at Castlerea Prison has been denied entry to the prison, due to his beard.

Deacon Seamus Talbot - who's a part-time chaplain - refused to shave his beard which he has worn for years, while the prison governor ordered that anyone accessing Castlerea Prison must be clean-shaven. The order was issued as part of a health and safety review around prison conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Irish Examiner reports that the prison has been without a chaplain since early December because of the stand-off.

Deacon Talbot, who was ordained a deacon for the Elphin diocese in 2012, took up duty as prison chaplain in early November.

A spokesperson the Irish Prison Service has told Midwest News that the Prison Service has a national policy that states all prison-based staff must be clean-shaven when reporting for duty - this is to ensure the effectiveness of face-masks which are required to be worn.

The spokesperson said this is just one of a wide range of measures introduced to mitigate against the spread of Covid-19.

All staff are required to be clean-shaven when attending for duty in prison locations.

The statement concludes that " a chaplain has recently been appointed to Castlerea Prison, and the service to prisoners continues to be provided, along with all other services".

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