What's New

It’s Active School Week

Active School Week promotes physical activity in schools and communities. It is taking place from 25-29 April and is co-sponsored by the Department of Education & Skills and the HSE.

Active School Week is a central part of the Active School Flag initiative. The Department of Education and Skills recognises schools that strive to achieve a physical educated and physically active school community by awarding them the Active School Flag. Primary and post primary schools, special schools and Youthreach centres can apply.

Visit activeschoolflag.ie to learn more.  

Know your rights: Online dispute resolution

Question

What can I do if I have a problem with an item I’ve bought online?

Answer (April 2016)

If you are not happy with an item you’ve bought online, you should always contact the trader first to make your complaint. If you are not satisfied with their response, you may be able to get help.

If your complaint is against a trader here in Ireland, you can contact the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission for advice. If the trader is in another EU member state, you can contact the European Consumer Centre Ireland (ECC Ireland). The ECC may contact the trader and try to resolve your dispute. If this is not successful, ECC Ireland will forward your case to an alternative dispute resolution organisation in the other country.

You can also use the new Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform. The online ODR platform is operated by the European Commission for consumers living in the EU. It aims to help consumers and traders settle online disputes without the need to go to court. You use the platform to find a neutral third party (called dispute resolution body) to handle your dispute.

You don’t have to pay when you submit a complaint using the ODR platform. However, a dispute resolution body may ask you to pay a fee if it agrees to handle your case. When a dispute resolution body agrees to handle your case they’ll tell you what the rules are, including how much you have to pay.

The outcome can depend on the type of dispute resolution body and their rules and procedures. Some decisions may not be binding on the trader. If you disagree with the outcome you might be able to appeal the outcome or take your case to court. Sometimes there may be nothing more you can do.

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: Microchipping your dog

Question

Should my dog be microchipped? Does the microchip replace a dog licence?

Answer (April 2016)

Under the Microchipping of Dogs Regulations 2015, all dogs born after 1 June 2015 must be microchipped and registered on an authorised database by the time they are 12 weeks old, or if they leave the property on which they were born before the age of 12 weeks.

The microchip does not replace the licence. You will still need to have a licence for your dog. Dog licences are issued by your local authority.

If your dog was born after 1 June 2015 and is now over 12 weeks old, it should already have been microchipped and registered. Since 31 March 2016, the Regulations apply to all dogs over 12 weeks old. Even if your dog has already been microchipped (for a pet passport, for example) it needs to be registered on an authorised database as well.

The microchip can only be implanted by a vet, a veterinary nurse or a person who has been trained by one of the authorised databases. The microchip contains a unique 15-digit number. When you register with an authorised database, this number is recorded on it, along with your name and address details. Microchipping and registering means that, if your dog goes missing and is found, you can be identified as its owner and be reunited with it.

If you plan to buy a new dog at any stage, you should check that it has been microchipped and registered. The seller has to give you the dog’s certificate of registration and you should forward it to the relevant database to get the details updated. If you move house, you will need to update your contact details on the database.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has published a list of authorised databases, along with a set of Frequently Asked Questions, on agriculture.gov.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.

Sunday 24 April 2016 is census night

The next census will take place on Sunday 24 April 2016.

The census is a detailed account of everybody who is in the country on census night. On 24 April everybody in Ireland is required to enter their details on a census form.Census enumerators are currently visiting every home in Ireland to deliver census forms. You must fill in your form on Sunday 24 April  and your enumerator will return to collect it.

You can get detailed information on filling in the form and the questions you will be asked on census.ie. 

TidyTowns competition

The 2016 SuperValu TidyTowns competition opened for entries on 5 April 2016. The competition is for local communities who are interested in improving the quality of their surroundings and, in the process, developing community spirit.

The competition is administered by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. It has been running since 1958 and each year attracts more than 700 communities across Ireland who compete for a cash award and the title of Ireland’s Tidiest Town.

Entry into the TidyTowns competition is voluntary and the competition is open to every village, town and city area in the State. The closing date for receipt of entries for this year’s competitions is 20 May 2016.

Judging takes place in June, July and August each year and the results are announced at the National Awards Ceremony in September.

Learn more at tidytowns.ie.

Know your rights: Bereavement at work

Question

My father has had a stroke and is critically ill. The doctors say that he has very little time left. Am I entitled to leave from work to be with him?

Answer (April 2016)

If you have a family crisis, the Parental Leave Acts 1998 and 2006 give an employee a limited right to leave from work. This is known as force majeure leave. You can take force majeure leave where, for urgent family reasons, your immediate presence is necessary because a close family member is ill or has been injured.

The definition of a close family member includes a child or adopted child, a spouse or partner and a parent or grandparent.

The maximum amount of leave is three days in any 12-month period or five days in a 36-month period. You are entitled to be paid while you are on force majeure leave. Your employer may grant you further leave.

However force majeure leave does not give any entitlement to leave following the death of a close family member. If your father dies following his illness, you don’t have a statutory right to leave after his death.

You may be entitled to compassionate leave under your contract of employment or custom and practice in your workplace. Alternatively, you may be given some bereavement leave at your employer’s discretion.

Further information about force majeure leave is available from the Workplace Relations Commission’s Information and Customer Service Lo-call: 1890 80 80 90.

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.

GP visit cards for children under 6

Children under the age of 6 are entitled to free visits to a GP (family doctor). They are not entitled to free visits to hospital emergency departments.  All children aged under 6 who live in Ireland or who intend to live in Ireland for at least one year are eligible.The doctor must be taking part in the free GP care for children under 6 scheme.

You must register your child for a GP visit card. You will need your Personal Public Service number (PPS number), your child(rens) PPS numbers and your choice of participating GP

You can get a list of GPs who are taking part in the scheme at gpvisitcard.ie. The list also tells you whether your chosen GP accepts online registrations. If they do, you can apply online at gpvisitcard.ie. If a GP doesn’t accept online registrations, or if you prefer to use a paper form, you can download the registration form from gpvisitcard.ie, bring it to the GP to sign, and then send it to: GP Visit Card – Under 6s, PO Box 12629, Dublin 11.

Your child will be included in this scheme until the end of the month of their sixth birthday. The expiry date is shown on the card. You will be notified approximately three months before it is due to expire.

If you have any questions about registering for the scheme, you can phone Lo-call 1890 252 919.

Irish passport holders and the United States Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program enables most citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa.

From 1 April 2016, all Irish passport holders who are able to travel to the United States via the Visa Waiver Program must have a valid electronic passport.

Find out more on the website of the US Embassy.