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Information and updates on the Zika virus

Zika is a viral infection that usually causes a mild illness that typically lasts between 2 to 7 days. Zika is spread by mosquitoes. Eighty percent of people who become infected by Zika virus have no symptoms. However infection with Zika virus has been strongly linked with a serious birth condition called microcephaly. Microcephaly means a baby born with an unusually small head. In these cases, the baby’s brain may not have formed properly during pregnancy. Cases of a neurological illness (called Guillain Barre Syndrome) possibly caused by Zika virus infection are also being studied.

You can visit the Health Protection and Surveillance Centre (HPSC) for further information on the Zika Virus Infection, including affected countries and FAQs.  

Visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website to get advice on travelling to areas where Zika has been reported. 

Today is Safer Internet Day

This year the theme for the Day is “Play your part for a better internet”. The Day aims to raise awareness of emerging online issues such as cyber bullying. In Ireland, events will take place in 470 schools involving over 50,000 pupils.

Full information, as well as a series of useful resources aimed at young people, parents and schools, is available on the Safer Internet Day Ireland website.

Know your rights: Accessing health care abroad

Question

 I need to get a medical procedure carried out. I have just found out that I can expect to wait over a year for the procedure in Ireland. Can I get my medical costs refunded if I travel to another country in Europe to have this procedure?

Answer (February 2016)

If you are entitled to public health services that are available in Ireland, you can access these services in the European Economic Area (EEA). You will be repaid the cost if you meet the requirements. This is provided for by the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive.

The Directive covers services that are publicly funded and available in Ireland. These include acute hospital services and community-based out-patient care. Other services covered include physiotherapy, ophthalmic, psychology, disability and mental health services. Occupational therapy services and dental and orthodontic services are also covered, but with some exceptions. Treatments that qualify for the Treatment Abroad Scheme (in general, treatments not available in Ireland) are not covered under the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive.

You must be referred to the health service that you require abroad in the same way that you would be referred to public health services in Ireland. This referral may be by your GP (family doctor) or public hospital consultant for example. They may also be able to tell you whether the service you require is covered by the Directive. You can also check with the National Contact Point (details below).

If the treatment involves an overnight stay in hospital, then it will need to be authorised in advance by the Health Service Executive (HSE). For other treatments, you should check whether prior authorisation is required. You pay the costs of treatment and then apply for a refund when you return to Ireland. The amount repaid is the amount that the treatment would cost in Ireland or the cost of your treatment abroad if that is less. It does not include other costs such as travel. The HSE has published refund amounts for different treatments. To get a refund of treatment costs, you and your healthcare provider abroad must complete a HSE form. You then submit it with the healthcare provider invoice and receipt.

For information about prior authorisation, applying for a refund, or for any other queries contact: National Contact Point, Cross-Border Healthcare Directive Department, St Canice’s Hospital, Dublin Road, Kilkenny, Telephone (056) 778 4546, Email: crossborderdirective@hse.ie.

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.

Closing dates for supplemental registers

The general election will be held on Thursday 26 February 2016. You can use checktheregister.ie to check that your name is on the Register of Electors in your local authority. If you are not on the Register of Electors you can add your name to a supplemental register.

Friday, 5 February 2016 is the closing date for your local authority to receive an application for entry to the Supplement to the Postal or Special voters list for the general election.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016 is the closing date for your local authority to receive an application for entry to the Supplement to the Register of Electors for the general election.

Find out more about voting in an election.

Know your rights: Registering to vote

Question

I want to vote in the upcoming general election. How do I add my name to the register?

Answer (February 2016)

The Register of Electors is published every year on 1 February. The 2016/17 register comes into effect on 15 February 2016. You can check if you are on the Register at checktheregister.ie or at your local authority, Garda station, post office or public library. The closing date for submitting changes to the Register was 25 November 2015.

Changes to the published Register after the closing date are taken into account in a supplement to the Register of Electors. If you are not listed on the register, you can apply be added to the supplement using form RFA2. The form is available online at checktheregister.ie or from your local authority, post office or public library.

You can make this application at any time, but in order to be included in the supplement used at an election, your application must be received by your local authority at least 15 days before polling day (Sundays, public holidays and Good Friday are not counted as days for this purpose). In general you must sign the form in the presence of a member of the Garda Síochána from your local garda station unless you are unable to for certified medical reasons

If you are on the register but your address has changed, you can have your new address added to the supplement by completing form RFA3. This will also remove you from the register for your previous address.

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.

Employing a person with a disability

A new national Employers Disability Information service (EDI) is now available. The service will provide employers with advice and information on employing staff with disabilities.

The service comprises:

  • A helpline providing advice and information to employers
  • A website with information and guidance and an FAQ section
  • Promotion of the service and proactive outreach to employers
  • Development of networks and fora for employers to share experiences and good practice

The service is managed by a consortium of employer organisations – Chambers Ireland, IBEC and ISME and is funded through the National Disability Authority (NDA).

Visit calledi.ie for more information on the service.

If you have a specific question, you can contact the service at (01) 6762014.

Know your rights: Help for people who have been flooded

Question

 My house was flooded and badly damaged. What help can I get?

Answer (February 2016)

The Department of Social Protection’s Humanitarian Assistance Scheme provides means-tested emergency financial help immediately following flooding. The Government has not set a limit on the amount that can be paid to an individual household under this scheme. The amount paid depends on how severe the damage is and your ability to meet these costs. The scheme covers:

  1. Emergency income support payments.
  2. Damage to your home and its essential contents, such as carpets, flooring, furniture and household appliances and bedding.
  3. Structural damage may also be considered.

The Department of Social Protection also provides exceptional and urgent needs payments which can help in the aftermath of a flood.

If your home has been flooded and you are getting help from the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme, you can apply to have your 2016 Local Property Tax (LPT) payment deferred (even if you do not qualify for deferral under the normal criteria). Contact the LPT Helpline on 1890 200 255 to make the relevant arrangements.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has information on cleaning a home after flooding and dealing with the psychological effects of flooding. The Office of Public Works (OPW) has a website, flooding.ie, that gives information about what to do before, during and after a flood.

There are two publications giving details of the help available:

You can get the leaflets on the welfare.ie website or from your local Citizens Information Centre.

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.

Tax credit certificates

Your tax credit certificate lists your tax credits and reliefs for 2016. You can view your tax credit certificate and claim any additional tax credits that you may be due for 2016 on Revenue’s PAYE Anytime. You can also print a copy of your tax credit certificate from PAYE Anytime.

To access PAYE Anytime you must be registered for myAccount. This is a single access point for all Revenue’s secure online services (except ROS) and is the quickest, easiest and most convenient way to manage your tax affairs.

Find out about changes in your take home pay in 2016. 

Know your rights: Refusal to prosecute

Question

A friend of mine was very seriously assaulted but has been told that the person who was arrested will not be prosecuted. Can she find out the reason for this?

Answer (January 2016)

Yes she can. Since 16 November 2015, if the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) decides not to prosecute, the victim can ask the DPP for a summary of the reasons for the decision not to prosecute. In a fatal case a family member of the victim can ask. If the decision not to prosecute was made by the Gardaí, you must ask the Gardaí for a summary of the reasons for the decision.

To request a summary of the reasons for the decision by the DPP not to prosecute you must send a Request for a Summary of Reasons form to the:

The form is available on dppireland.ie or from your local Garda station. You must send your request for reasons within 28 days of the date you are told of the decision not to prosecute. In some cases the DPP might extend this time limit.

If you are not satisfied, you can request a review of a decision. The review will be carried out by a lawyer who was not involved in making the original decision. If you have already requested a summary of the reasons for the decision, you must make your request for a review within 28 days of the date on the letter telling you of the reasons. If you have not asked for the reasons for the decision, you must make your request for a review within 56 days (8 weeks) of the date you are told of the decision not to prosecute. To request a review of the DPP’s decision, you should write to the Communications and Victims Liaison Unit.

Communications and Victims Liaison Unit,
Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions,
Infirmary Road,
Dublin 7

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.