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Know your rights: Rules on operating drones

Question

I intend to buy a drone. Are there any rules I should be aware of?

Answer (May 2016)

Drones and model aircraft are both considered small unmanned aircraft and the same rules apply to their operation. The rules are set out in the Small Unmanned Aircraft (Drones) and Rockets Order 2015 (SI 563/2015).

Under the rules, all drones weighing 1kg or more must be registered with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA). This includes the weight of the battery and all attached equipment, including cargo, at the start of its flight. You must be over 16 years of age to register a drone, otherwise it must be registered by a parent or legal guardian. You register your drone online at iaa.ie/drones.

You must never operate a drone in a negligent or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of others and you must have permission from the landowner for take-off and landing. You must never operate it:

  • Farther than 300 metres from you or out of your direct line of sight
  • Over 120 metres above ground level
  • Over urban areas or over a group of 12 or more people
  • Within 120 metres of any person, vessel or structure not under your control
  • Closer than 5 kilometres from an aerodrome
  • If it will be a hazard to another aircraft in flight
  • In civil or military controlled airspace or in restricted areas such as prisons

If you want to operate your drone outside these limits, you must apply to the IAA for a specific operating permission and complete a drone safety training course. If your drone weighs 4kg or more, you must complete a drone safety training course before operating it.

You should be aware that there may be privacy or trespass issues if you operate a drone over private property. While you do not need insurance to operate a drone it is recommended that you are insured and that you complete a drone safety training course.

Information about Lyme disease from the HSE

During the summer, as people spend more time outdoors, the risk of tick bites increases. The HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) is urging people to protect themselves against Lyme disease, which is transmitted by infected biting ticks. Lyme disease can, in a small number of cases, cause severe debilitating heart and nervous system disease. However it is rare in Ireland.

The HPSC suggests that you prevent tick bites by:

  • Wearing long trousers, long sleeved shirt and shoes
  • Using an insect repellent, such as DEET (but use a low-strength DEET if you are pregnant – your local pharmacist can advise you)
  • Checking skin, hair and warm skin folds (especially the neck and scalp of children) for ticks, after a day out
  • Removing any ticks and consulting with a GP if symptoms develop
  • If you have been walking your dog, check him/her too

Read more on hse.ie. 

Know your rights: Challenging a school’s policies

Question

My son shaved his head on Saturday and was sent home from secondary school on the following Monday. The school is using school policy to justify suspending him for one week until his hair starts to grow. What can I do?

Answer (May 2016)

All schools should have policies in place to deal with issues as they arise in the normal day-to-day running of a school (codes of behavior, school rules and other policies). These should be provided or made available to parents of children attending the school. If you are unhappy about a school’s policy or the implementation of a school’s policy you can make a complaint to the school. The school should have a formal complaints procedure that you can follow.

The complaints procedure usually involves contacting the principal with your complaint. (The school’s procedures may ask you to speak to another member of staff before speaking with the principal.) If having spoken with the school principal, you are still not happy that your complaint has been resolved you may contact the chairperson of the school’s management authority.

If the chairperson cannot resolve your complaint they should discuss the matter at a meeting of the management authority. The school’s Board of Management is usually the management authority. However, in the case of Education and Training Board schools you should contact the Education and Training Board responsible for the school.

Shortly after reaching its decision, the management authority will let you know its decision on your complaint. This decision ends the school complaints process. The Department of Education and Skills provides information about making a complaint to a school on their website.

If you have followed the school’s complaints procedures and you are not satisfied with the outcome you can escalate your complaint about the school to the Ombudsman for Children’s Office. The key criterion for any intervention by the Ombudsman for Children is that the action complained of has or may have adversely affected the child. The Ombudsman can examine any administrative actions of the school, staff or Board of Management including whether the school’s policies have been followed correctly or if those policies are fair.

Know Your Rights columns cover topical subjects every month in a question-and-answer format. They are published by the Citizens Information Board online and syndicated through Citizens Information Services to local newspapers around Ireland.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, call 0761 07 4000.

It’s National Volunteering Week

This year’s National Volunteering Week takes place from 16 to 22 May 2016. It is organised by Volunteer Ireland.  Volunteer Ireland develops and supports best practice in volunteering and also supports Volunteer Centres across Ireland.

The theme of the week in 2016 is ‘thinking differently about volunteering’. If you want to volunteer in your local area there are over 3,000 volunteering opportunities currently available on I-VOL, the national database of volunteering.

Find out more from Volunteer Ireland.

Springboard courses

Springboard+ offers 280 free courses at 42 higher education institutions across Ireland. They include part-time courses and full-time ICT skills conversion programmes.

Springboard aims to offer qualifications in areas where there are job opportunities – such as ICT and financial services. Courses are available at certificate, degree and masters level and are generally one year or less.

In general, to qualify for Springboard you must be unemployed, with a previous history of employment, and you must be actively seeking work and available to take up work.  Most courses are part-time, enabling you to keep social welfare payments. Successful applicants for full-time ICT skills conversion courses who are in receipt of a jobseeker’s payment can apply for the Back to Education Allowance.

Read about Springboard and eligibility criteria.

Know your rights: The Homemaker’s Scheme

Question

I’m going to take some time off work to look after my children. What effect will this have on my contributions for the State pension?

Answer (May 2016)

Under the Homemaker’s Scheme, time you spend out of the workforce caring for children or a person with a disability can be disregarded when calculating your entitlement for a State Pension (Contributory). The scheme came into effect on 6 April 1994 (time spent homemaking before this is not taken into account).

You do not get credits for years spent out of the workforce. Instead these years will be disregarded when working out your entitlement to a State Pension (Contributory). However, you may get credits for the remainder of the year you leave the workforce, and for part of the year when you rejoin the workforce.

A homemaker, for the purposes of the Homemaker’s Scheme is a man or woman who provides full-time care for a child under the age of 12 or an ill or disabled person aged 12 or over. A homemaking year is a year in which you are out of the workforce for the full tax year. Up to a maximum of 20 homemaking years can be disregarded when working out your entitlement to a State Pension (Contributory).

To qualify for a State Pension (Contributory) you must have a minimum yearly average number of contributions from when you entered social insurance to pension age. The Homemaker’s scheme provides that full contribution years spent caring in the home are disregarded in calculating a person’s yearly average number of contributions. Take, for example, a woman who started work in 1985, took 10 years out of work to care for children from 1995 to 2005 and then returned to work for another 20 years before retiring in 2025 and applying for a State Pension. Her yearly average would be calculated over 30 years instead of 40 years when the 10 years spent in the home are disregarded.

Know Your Rights columns cover topical subjects every month in a question-and-answer format. They are published by the Citizens Information Board online and syndicated through Citizens Information Services to local newspapers around Ireland.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, call 0761 07 4000.

Know your rights: Carer’s Support Grant

Question 

What are the changes to the grant for respite care this year? How do I apply for the grant?

Answer (May 2016)

The name of the Respite Care Grant was changed in 2016 and it is now called the Carer’s Support Grant. The grant is an annual payment made to carers by the Department of Social Protection. Carers can use the grant in whatever way they wish. You can use the grant to pay for respite care if you wish, but you do not have to do so. In 2016 the grant will be €1,700 (increased from €1,300).

You do not qualify if you are working more than 15 hours a week outside the home, if you are taking part in an education or training course for more than 15 hours a week, if you are getting a jobseeker’s payment or if you are signing on for jobseeker credits. You also do not qualify if you are living in a hospital, convalescent home or similar institution. If you are caring for more than one person, a grant is paid for each of them.

In June of each year (usually on the first Thursday of the month), the Department of Social Protection pays the grant automatically to carers getting Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance or Prescribed Relative’s Allowance. If you are not getting one of these payments and you did not get the grant last year, you should fill in an application form. You can apply for this year’s grant from 7 April 2016 (8 weeks before the grant is payable).

If you got the grant last year you do not need to reapply. You will get a letter at the end of April from the Carer’s Support Grant section in the Department of Social Protection with a short questionnaire. You must answer the questions on the back and return the letter to the Carer’s Support Grant section. A freepost envelope will be included with your letter. After you return the letter, the Department will use this and the information on file to reassess you for the Carer’s Support Grant.

You can apply for a Carer’s Support Grant for any given year until 31 December of the following year. So, for example, you can apply for a grant for 2015 up until 31 December 2016.

Know Your Rights columns cover topical subjects every month in a question-and-answer format. They are published by the Citizens Information Board online and syndicated through Citizens Information Services to local newspapers around Ireland.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, call 0761 07 4000.

Warning: email scam

The Citizens Information Board has become aware of fraudulent emails purporting to come from Revenue and which use a fake “@citizensinformation.ie” email address.

These emails did not issue from the Citizens Information Board or from Revenue.

Anyone who receives an email purporting to be from Revenue and suspects it to be fraudulent or a scam should simply delete it.

Anyone who provided personal information in response to these fraudulent emails should contact their bank or credit card company immediately.