Know Your Rights: Domestic violence


My partner has been violent towards me and my children. What can I do to stop this and protect my family?

Answer (February 2017)

If you are concerned about violence in your home, you can contact the Gardaí, who are specially trained to deal with these situations and can offer advice and information. Under the Domestic Violence Act 1996, where there is an order in place, Gardaí have the power to arrest and prosecute a violent family member. There are two main kinds of protection available – a safety order and a barring order.

A safety order is an order of the court which prohibits the violent person with whom you are living from further violence or threats of violence. It does not oblige the person to leave the family home. You can also get a safety order against a person with whom you have had a child, even if you are no longer living with or have never lived with the person. It prohibits them from watching or being near your home.  A safety order can last up to 5 years.

A barring order is an order which requires the person to leave the family home. If you are not married or in a civil partnership, you can get a barring order against a violent partner if you have been living together in an intimate and committed relationship for 6 out of the previous 9 months and if your partner does not own most or all of the house you are living in. A barring order can last up to 3 years.

Both types of order can be renewed by applying for a further order before the previous one has expired.

Others living together can also apply for protection.  For example, a parent can apply for protection against domestic violence by their own child, if the child is over 18.

To get a barring order or a safety order, you must apply to the District Court. While you are waiting for the court to hear your application, the court can give you an immediate order, called a protection order. The protection order has the same effect as a safety order. In exceptional circumstances the court can grant an interim barring order. This is an immediate order, requiring the violent person to leave the family home.

Know Your Rights: Carers and free travel


I care full-time for a relative with a disability and I have applied for Carer’s Allowance. Although I am not yet aged 66 would I be entitled to a free travel pass, if I qualify for this allowance?

Answer (February 2017)

Everyone aged 66 and over living permanently in the State is entitled to the Free Travel Scheme. If you are under age 66 and registered for a Public Services Card, you will be awarded free travel with your Carer’s Allowance. You will be issued with a new Public Services Card which will also be your Free Travel Card. The card will have “F-T” printed in a yellow octagon in the top left-hand corner.

If you have not yet registered for the Public Services Card, you will be asked to register before your Free Travel Card issues to you.

The Public Services Card allows people to access a range of government services and payments and it will eventually replace the Free Travel Pass. In order to keep your entitlement to Free Travel, you must register for the Public Services Card when requested to do so by the Department of Social Protection. Your entitlement to Free Travel will be disallowed or withdrawn if you don’t register.

You must show your Public Services Card to the travel operator when you are travelling on public transport. (In some cases you may be asked to scan your Public Services Card. However, not all transport operators have this facility.)

Note that people under 66 getting PRSI-based Carer’s Benefit are not entitled to a Free Travel Card.

If you are living with the person you care for, you may also be entitled to the Household Benefits Package, which includes an electricity or gas allowance as well as a free TV licence.  Only one person in a household can qualify for the package at any time.

Know Your Rights: Importing a car into Ireland


What are the rules about buying a car in the UK and bringing it back to Ireland?

Answer (February 2017)

In general, all vehicles brought into Ireland are subject to Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and must be registered. If you have imported a vehicle, you must pay VRT and receive the vehicle’s registration certificate showing that you have paid VRT.

If you live abroad and are moving to live in Ireland, you may be eligible for a VRT exemption. Even if you are not required to pay VRT, you must still register your vehicle when you move to Ireland. In certain cases, foreign-registered vehicles may be imported into Ireland temporarily by a non-resident without the requirement to pay VRT or register the vehicle.

You register the car and pay the VRT at a National Car Testing Service (NCTS) centre. You can get an estimate of the VRT due from the Revenue Vehicle Registration Online Enquiry System.

When you register and pay the VRT, a registration number will be assigned to your car. You can obtain vehicle registration plates from the NCTS centre or from any motor factor.

If you are importing a new car from another EU state, you have to pay VAT (Value Added Tax), usually when registering the car. If you are importing a new or second- hand car from outside the EU, VAT (and customs duty) is payable.

If your vehicle is 4 years old or more, it will have to go through the National Car Test (NCT) immediately.

Further information is available in the Revenue guide to VRT and on

Know Your Rights: Family Income Supplement and student grants


My wife and I are applying for the Family Income Supplement (FIS) for our family of two children.  We are unsure about what income is included in the means test for this payment. For example, will my wife’s student grant be included?

Answer (February 2017)

Family Income Supplement (FIS) is a weekly tax-free payment for families, including one-parent families, at work on low pay.  The combined income of a couple (married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting) is taken into account when your means are assessed for FIS. Income from any source, including a student grant, is assessed in the means test. However, the following payments are not counted as family income:

Capital is not assessed. This includes property you own, bank accounts and cars. However, bank accounts may be checked for other income sources and income derived from the use of a car that you own may be assessed (for example as a taxi).

The main items counted as income are a couple’s  assessable earnings, any extra earned in employment (such as pay for overtime, bonuses, allowances or commission), income from self-employment, occupational pensions, social welfare payments (apart from those listed above), income from carer’s payments or rental income from the letting of property or land.

Landlords and tenants – recent changes

If you are renting from a private landlord or a housing association, your tenancy is covered by the residential tenancies legislation and you can acquire security of tenure under Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.

Several new provisions came into effect on 17 January 2017. They include:

  • Extending the tenancy cycle for Part 4 tenancies from 4 years to 6 years
  • Requiring a landlord to give reason when terminating a Further Part 4 tenancy in the first 6 months

They also include restrictions on the sale of 10 or more rented units in a development (the “Tyrrelstown amendments”).

We are currently updating the Renting a home documents on with these recent changes.

Read more on the Residential Tenancies Board’s website.

Applications for new Help to Buy incentive can be made from today, 3 Jan 2017

A new Help to Buy (HTB) incentive was introduced under Budget 2017. It is designed to help first-time buyers of newly built homes to assemble the required deposit. It also applies to once-off self-build homes.

It provides for a refund of income tax and Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) paid over the previous 4 tax years.

It is possible to apply for the scheme from today, 3 January 2017.

Find out more about the Help to Buy incentive.