High Court asked to consider imprisonment of Iarnrod Eireann CEO and senior manager

High Court asked to consider imprisonment of Iarnrod Eireann CEO and senior manager

By Ann O’Loughlin

The High Court has been asked to consider committing the CEO of Iarnrod Eireann and a senior manager at the company to prison for an alleged failure to comply with a court direction that a DART driver be restored to his position.

Last April Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said the driver Mr Paul Leblique should be restored to his position and disciplinary findings against him which arose following a safety incident at Tara Street Station in 2016 should be set aside.

Following the incident Mr Leblique was demoted to a non driving role with the company after he had refused to provide a urine sample.

The matter has returned before the High Court where the driver, represented by Conor Bowman SC, claims that despite the judge’s findings, and having passed all the various tests and assessments proposed by Irish rail, Mr Leblique has not been reinstated to his position as driver.

Arising out of the alleged failure to comply with the judge’s direction Mr Leblique has brought a motion seeking to attach and commit to prison the CEO of Iarnrod Eireann Mr David Franks, and Mr Chris Rafferty Dart District Manager of Pearse Station.

The company denies the claims. Stephen Dodd Bl for Irish Rail said said the company "entirely rejected" the application which he said was without merit.

The case was before Mr Justice Tony O’Connor who, noting the seriousness of the claims, fixed the hearing of the application to next Friday

The application comes after Mr Leblique, of Griffith Road, Finglas East, Dublin, sued his employer seeking various orders and declarations including that Irish Rail restore him to his position after he was taken off train driving duties.

The company opposed the action and had denied his claims.

It arose out of an incident on the morning of January 25, 2016, when the Dart he was driving at stopped short at Tara Street with the last carriage not coming up to the platform.

He was spoken to by a superior who joined the train at Pearse Street and they both continued on to Bray Station where another superior asked him to provide samples of breath and urine.

His breath sample was clear but he refused to provide a urine sample on grounds that the 2005 Rail Safety Act required that only a medical practitioner could take such a sample.

The sample was to be taken by an employee of a Northern Ireland company which carries out such tests for the rail company.

Mr Leblique was later suspended and then demoted.

Following a two day hearing before the High Court last April, Mr Justice Gilligan said it appeared the company was no longer pursuing the central issue in the case - the refusal of the sample - and that would have to be set aside by the court.

That only left the matter of stopping short of the platform which, it appeared, should be addressed through the company’s driver development and support scheme.

After saying that Mr Leblique should be restored to his position the Judge also awarded him the costs of his action against his employer.

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