Q My neighbours have been flouting the Covid-19 rules for many weeks. They have what seems like parties, barbeques, loud music and friends over all of the time. My husband has been ill (not with the virus), and it is very trying. Another neighbour said I should report them, but I don't know how or to what end. I'm really upset and as they live on a corner site (with my house attached), nobody else is particularly bothered with the noise
A This is very distressing and extremely annoying, particularly for all the people who are assiduously following the rules around gatherings. However, before I get into the reporting piece, I would say that it's likely this is temporary. We've had a spate of good weather over the last few weeks and any restrictions on freedom seem to make some people a bit contrary.
If they haven't been causing disruption/noise on a regular basis before Covid-19, perhaps they won't after, but it's not clear from your complaint if that's the case. Also, with even minimal gatherings limited to outdoors, sound can travel extensively, especially at night. Perhaps you are more sensitive to it given everyone is living quieter lives, so it's important to identify if they are actually entertaining a lot of people, or if it's just their own, albeit noisy, immediate family.
That said, you do have remedies when it comes to noise pollution, but they will take time. The first, in my opinion, is to approach them (by letter if you don't feel comfortable at the door). Tell them your story as you've told me (or stick this reply in their letterbox!). They may genuinely not have realised how their choices have affected you and others.
Ask them to pipe down. If they still refuse and it's clear they are hosting gatherings not in compliance with the current restrictions, the most immediate response is to call the gardaí. You may feel that's dramatic, but I believe you'll find them most helpful.
If it's a wider or longer-term noise issue and Covid-19 has simply exacerbated it, you need to take a further action, which is through your local authority. Environmental Health Officers deal with noise complaints and will take action against what they perceive as "reasonable cause for annoyance".
Obviously, this is vague, to put it mildly, so the onus is on you to prove your case. They normally require logs showing when and what noise occurred (video footage would help, but don't put yourself in danger) and where a case ends up in court, your identity will be known.
I say all this not to put you off, but to let you know it's not an easy path, so where possible, it's best to resolve locally.
Q I read with great interest your very helpful article on nursing homes. I have recently secured Fair Deal for a relative in a nursing home, but since receiving it, I have been charged €2 per day extra to the nursing home for 'services'. When I queried this, I was told that Fair Deal only pays residential fees. Are they correct in this?
A I'm afraid so. Under the Nursing Home Support Scheme (Fair Deal), you are entitled to a private room in a nursing home of your choice, where available. The fee part funded by the HSE covers a resident's bed, board, laundry and care costs, which generally means that which is medically prescribed.
Nursing homes are permitted to charge additional service fees to cover things like entertainment, art materials, activities, cable TV etc, which is not covered by Fair Deal, but which most nursing homes offer to residents.
The €2 per day is on the low side, to be honest, as these can be quite hefty, running in some cases to hundreds of euro per month. In addition, they can charge for ancillary services such as physiotherapy, hairdressing, beauty treatments etc, that are not covered by the medical card, but which individual residents may like.
Residents are allowed retain 20pc of their income/pension, so perhaps your loved one could contribute to the extras through this.
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It was a fight hard fought and a reluctant Central Bank finally allowed credit unions to offer mortgages to their customers. Only some of them, mind you, and under strict conditions. The sector has an immensely loyal base and it was anticipated that lending would be a boon. The loans, not the deposits, after all, are the assets.
Then came Covid-19. Nobody’s borrowing, but everyone’s saving — the opposite of what is needed. Credit Unions are mandated to store reserves in line with deposits (a bone of contention). One of the largest, HSSCU has now had to limit savings to €40,000 among its valuable health services members. Others may follow. Let’s hope everyone wants new cars and kitchens when the crisis is over.