Know your rights: The law on outdoor drinking

What has changed in the law on drinking outdoors?

The law on drinking outdoors was recently changed to clarify that pubs and restaurants can serve alcohol to customers who are seated in ‘designated areas’ outside the premises.

Pubs and restaurants have been unable to open for indoor service due to COVID-19 restrictions. Local authorities have permitted outdoor seating in designated outdoor areas, but, previously, it was illegal to serve alcohol in those areas.

There has been no change to the laws about drinking outside in public places that are not ‘designated areas’ of a licensed premises. Drinking outdoors is not prohibited in general, but local authorities have bye-laws that don’t allow drinking in some or all public places.

If you are drinking in public and behaving in a way that could cause worry for safety, the Gardaí can confiscate your alcohol. They can also confiscate alcohol if it is being drunk by a person under 18, or if they have cause to believe that it will be consumed by a person under 18.

It is an offence to consume alcohol bought in a closed container (like a bottle or can) within 100 metres of the off-licence where it was sold. The law does not forbid a pub from delivering drinks to people’s homes, or stop customers from  bringing drinks home.

It is also an offence to be so drunk in a public place that you could reasonably be assumed to be a danger to yourself or to anyone around you.


You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Patient Advocacy Service

I was in hospital recently and I was not happy with my experience there. When I complained to the nurse in charge I wasn’t satisfied with the response. How can I take my complaint further?

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has a complaints system, called Your service your say, that you can use to make a complaint about your experience of a service provided by the HSE or on behalf of the HSE.

If you want to make a complaint about a public hospital to the HSE, you can get support from the Patient Advocacy Service to help you make your complaint.

The Patient Advocacy Service is fully independent of the HSE. It is a free and confidential service that can provide you with information to support you to make a formal complaint about an experience you have had in a public acute hospital.

The Patient Advocacy Service provides support by phone helpline, on 0818 293003, and on its website, patientadvocacyservice.ie. You can also email info@patientadvocacyservice.ie.

The service can explain how to make a formal complaint, including what you should include in your complaint and how to write it.

If there is a delay with the processing of the complaint or if you are not satisfied with the outcome, the Patient Advocacy Service can give you information about your options.

If you have a question about the Patient Advocacy Service, but you are not looking for information or support in relation to the care you have experienced, you can submit a contact form on its website.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.


You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Free cancer screening programmes

Do I need to register for the free cancer screening programmes and when do I become eligible?

The National Cancer Screening Service provides free screening programmes to help find or prevent different types of cancer. If you have any specific concerns or symptoms you should visit your GP (family doctor).

Cancer screening services are continuing during COVID-19.

BowelScreen

BowelScreen is a national screening programme to find signs of bowel cancer at an early stage, where there are no symptoms. The programme provides free bowel screening for men and women aged between 60 and 69 every two years.

If you are aged between 60 and 69 years and haven’t received an invitation for bowel screening, call Freephone 1800 45 45 55 to check if you’re on the register. If you are not on the register, you can add your details over the phone. You can also register for BowelScreen online.

CervicalCheck 

CervicalCheck is a national screening programme to prevent cervical cancer. Women and people with a cervix can get a free cervical screening test if they are aged between 25 and 65.

If you are on the CervicalCheck register, you’ll get a letter when your test is due. The letter will invite you to make an appointment with a registered GP, doctor or clinic.

You do not need to wait for a letter to book an appointment if:

  • You missed your last cervical screening test
  • Your next test is due

You also do not need to be on the register to have a free screening test. If your test is due, you can book a test with a GP or nurse who is registered with CervicalCheck. You can find one in your area by visiting cervicalcheck.ie or by calling Freephone 1800 45 45 55.

BreastCheck

BreastCheck is a national screening programme to help find breast cancer at an early stage. The programme offers all women between the ages of 50 and 69 a mammogram (an x-ray of the breast) free of charge every 2 years.

If you have not received an invitation for an appointment, check if you are registered by visiting breastcheck.ie or by calling Freephone 1800 45 45 55. If you are not registered, you can register online.


You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Surveillance in the workplace

I am working from home during COVID-19. Should my employer have a policy on internet and email usage and what activities are they allowed to monitor when I am working from home?

You have a right to privacy in the workplace. However, your right to privacy is balanced against your employer’s rights to run their business and protect their company.

Your employer should give you their policy on email and internet use in the workplace, including the use of social media. This is known as an Acceptable Usage Policy (AUP). 

When you work from home (also called remote working), your employer should follow the same rules in relation to monitoring your work. This should include telling you:

  • Who is monitoring you
  • What they are monitoring
  • How they are monitoring you
  • When they are monitoring you

Your employer should tell you if they are using employee surveillance software, for example, to track your mouse and keyboard activity, your use of email, social media, files and applications, and so on. This may be contained in a policy provided by the employer.

Monitoring must be necessary, legitimate and proportionate

If your employer wants to monitor your internet use or emails, it must be necessary, legitimate and proportionate.

Necessary: Your employer must be sure that monitoring is necessary. They should consider less intrusive ways of supervising you before deciding on monitoring. For example, blocking websites would be less intrusive – and generally more acceptable – than monitoring your internet search history.

Legitimate: The monitoring should have a legal basis. For example, to make sure employees are not using the internet to download pornography, or to disclose confidential company information to people outside the organisation.

Proportionate: Your employer’s monitoring must be proportionate to the risk of the perceived threat. Proportionality means it must be fair, measured and reasonable in terms of its objectives. Monitoring all of your emails to make sure you are not passing on confidential information about the company would not be proportionate. However, monitoring your emails using an automated system to scan for viruses would probably be considered proportionate.

Read more about surveillance in the workplace.  


You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Springboard+

I’m unemployed and I want to return to work.  Are there free courses I can take to develop my skills so that I am more employable?

Springboard+ provides free higher education courses for people who are unemployed (or were self-employed) and those looking to return to the workforce.

Courses are offered in different areas including information and communications technology (ICT), medical technologies, cybersecurity, sustainable energy and financial services.

The courses range from certificate to master’s degree level – levels 6 to 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). Most of the courses are part-time and last for one year or less, but there are some full-time courses.

You can access a free Springboard+ course, if you are getting a qualifying social welfare payment such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Jobseeker’s Benefit or the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). You can get a full list of qualifying payments for Springboard+ on citizensinformation.ie

If you are not getting a qualifying social welfare payment, you will have to meet the residency criteria for Springboard+.

You can also apply for a Springboard+ course if:

  • You are a qualified adult of working age (under 66) on someone else’s social welfare payment
  • You are signing for social insurance credits
  • You are on an Employment support scheme such as Community Employment or TUS

To apply for a Springboard+ course, you choose the course(s) you are interested in on springboardcourses.ie and apply online, following the instructions on the website. You can apply to up to 10 courses, but you can only take one course.

If you are getting a social welfare payment, you should notify your Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office and check what further steps (if any) you need to take.

If Springboard+ doesn’t meet your needs, there are several other ways to go back to education.


You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Basic bank account

I am on a low income and I need to open a bank account. Some banks offer free accounts to people who are a certain age or lodge a certain amount of money but I don’t qualify. Is there another option?

You can open a type of account called a basic bank account.

A basic bank account is a current account that has no maintenance fees or charges for everyday banking for at least one year.

To get a basic bank account you must:

  • Not have another payment or current account with a bank in Ireland
  • Be legally resident in the EU
  • Be over 18 years of age (for most banks)
  • Provide proof of identity and address and meet the bank’s criteria for opening an account

A basic bank account comes with a debit card. You can also set up direct debits and standing orders and register for online banking.

There are no charges for day-to-day banking, but there may still be charges for things like replacing your debit card, bank drafts, international services and missed payments. You should discuss this with the bank before opening your account.

You cannot get a cheque book or an overdraft with a basic account.

At the end of your first year with a basic bank account, your bank will review your account. If the total amount lodged into the account within the year is less than the national minimum wage, you will continue to get fee-free banking for a limited time.

If you go over this limit, or if you have had a basic account for a total of 5 years, the account will be converted to a normal current account and you will pay fees and charges.

If you want to open a basic bank account, you should contact one of the main banks to find out how to apply.

You can find more information about managing your money and opening a bank account on the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) website mabs.ie


You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

I am getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. I have one child starting school in September.  Can I qualify for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance?

Yes, you can. To qualify for this payment which helps with back to school costs, you must be getting a social welfare payment or taking part in a training, employment or adult education scheme. People getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, the Working Family Payment or the Back to Work Family Dividend can qualify. Your application will be means-tested and your total family income must be below a certain level for your family size.

Your children must be aged between 4 and 22 on 30 September 2021. If they are aged between 18 and 22 they must be in full-time second-level education in a recognised school or college in the autumn of 2021. In general, you must be getting an Increase for a Qualified Child with your payment.

The Allowance is €150 for children aged between 4 and 11 and €275 for children aged between 12 and 22. It is paid automatically to many families. This means that they do not have to apply for the payment. If you qualify automatically, you will get a letter before 21 June 2021 to let you know.

You need to apply online for the BTSCFA, if you do not get a letter confirming your payment. If any of your children are aged 18 or over, you must apply for the BTSCFA for them and show evidence that they are in second-level education (even if automatic payments have issued for other children in your family).

From 21 June 2021, you can apply for BTSCFA online through MyWelfare.ie. You must have a Public Services Card and a verified MyGovID account to apply online. If you have difficulties applying online, you can contact the BSCFA section on 071 91 93318 or 0818 11 11 13. The closing date for applications is 30 September 2021.

Read more about the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance and you can read detailed guidelines on gov.ie.


You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

Know your rights: EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC)

What is the EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC)?

The EU Digital COVID Certificate (previously called the Digital Green Certificate) will help citizens move freely and safely within the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. The DCC is for EU citizens, residents and their families and non-EU citizens who are legally staying or residing in the EU.

It will be proof that you have either:

  • Been vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Received a negative test result
  • Recovered from COVID-19

Being vaccinated will not be a pre-condition to travel.

What information will be included on the DCC?

The certificate will only contain necessary key information including:

  • Your name
  • Your date of birth
  • The date of issue
  • Relevant information about your vaccine or test or recovery
  • A unique identifier number

The DCC will be free and available in both digital and paper formats. The certificate has a QR code to avoid fraud.

Individual member states will decide how the DCC will be used as part of national public health measures. If you are travelling abroad you should always check the entry requirements before you travel.

The system will be used throughout the EU and will also be open to Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland. You can check the European Centre of Disease Control’s map (EU traffic lights system) before you travel abroad.

You can read more about the EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC) on citizensinformation.ie.


You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.

National Recovery Plan

An Economic Recovery Plan for Ireland was announced on 1 June 2021. The Plan will support the resumption of economic activity and get people back to work as Ireland opens up and recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Plan is set out under 4 pillars:

Pillar 1: Ensuring Sustainable Public Finances

Pillar 2: Helping People Back into Work
This pillar includes the extension of existing emergency pandemic financial supports including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

Pillar 3: Rebuilding Sustainable Enterprises

Pillar 4: A Balanced and Inclusive Recovery

You can also get information on the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (pdf) which sets out how Ireland plans to utilise an initial allocation of €915 million in grants from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility – which supports economic and social recovery, and addresses green and digital issues.

The Plan sets out 3 priorities:

Priority 1: Advancing the Green Transition (€503 million)
Priority 2: Accelerating and Expanding Digital Reforms and Transformation (€295 million)
Priority 3: Social and Economic Recovery and Job Creation (€181 million)

The National Recovery and Resilience Plan will work alongside and reinforce the Economic Recovery Plan (pdf). The draft National Recovery and Resilience Plan will be formally assessed by the European Commission, expected to take two months, before being submitted to the Council of the European Union for approval.


Know your rights: Carer’s Support Grant

I care for my mother full time and I get Carer’s Allowance. Last year, I automatically got the Carer’s Support Grant in June – will I get it again this year?

The Carer’s Support Grant is an annual payment made to full-time carers. It is paid by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) usually on the first Thursday of June each year. The grant is €1,850 (an increase of €150 from last year).

People getting Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit or Domiciliary Care Allowance are paid the grant automatically.  If you are getting one of these payments on the first Thursday in June, you automatically get the grant so you do not need to apply.

Full-time carers who are not getting one of these payments need to apply to the DSP. You must be:

  • Ordinarily resident in the State and caring on a full-time basis for at least six months (including the first Thursday in June)
  • Living with the person being cared for (or, if not, be contactable quickly by a direct system of communication, for example, telephone or alarm).

You won’t qualify if you are working, studying or training for more than 18.5 hours a week, getting a jobseeker’s payment or signing on for credits.

To apply, you need to fill out one application form (form CSG1) (pdf) for each person being cared for (a grant may be paid for each of them). You can get the form on gov.ie. For any given year, you can apply for the grant from April of that year until 31 December of the following year. So for 2021, you can apply up until December 2022.

You can read more about the Carer’s Support Grant on citizensinformation.ie


You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.