The recall of the €49.99 Pro-Guard helmet is a U-turn for Lidl, which two months ago paid for newspaper ads claiming the cut-price helmets had passed Irish safety standard IS355.
But in a statement yesterday Lidl Ireland apologised, saying: “It has come to our attention that further tests carried out on the product have failed to comply with the relevant standards.
“We would ask customers to cease using this product with immediate effect and return it for a full refund to their nearest Lidl store.”
No details were given about how many of the helmets were sold at the German-owned discount retailer’s 90 stores nationwide.
Lidl put the helmet on the market amid great fanfare on March 3 and got the headwear endorsed by the two-time hurler of the year, Cork’s Brian Corcoran.
Three weeks later the retailer placed ads in national newspapers, including the Irish Examiner, after the GAA raised questions about the gear.
The GAA said the only safety headgear it approved was the €75 Mycro helmet made by Mycro Sportsgear, of Ballincollig, Co Cork.
In the ads Lidl said: “We will not apologise for offering a high quality helmet at a significantly lower price than officially endorsed products.
“The Pro-Guard hurling helmet is fully compliant with the only official standard for hurling helmets, IS355.”
Following contact from Mycro, the Government’s National Consumer Agency (NCA) sent off Lidl helmets for testing in Britain but the results showed the headgear failed to meet the requirements of the IS355 safety standard.
Yesterday NCA chief executive Ann Fitzgerald said: “Consumer safety is paramount.
“I am glad that Lidl acted so quickly once management became aware of the potential hazards of these helmets.”
Today the retailer is placing ads in national newspapers as well as at its stores advising customers to bring back the Lidl helmets.
Last night Mycro co-owner Victor Morgan welcomed the recall, saying safety helmets played a vital role in reducing head injuries from solid-ash hurleys and sliothars.
“Since helmets came in, injuries to players have been reduced by 90%,” said Mr Morgan.
“Many people tell of spending Saturdays in accident and emergency 20 years ago before helmets came in.”
Safety helmets give vital protection against head injuries while the guard at the front prevents players from suffering broken noses and smashed teeth, he said.