A Killarney coach and luxury transport company, associated with Kerry senior footballer Johnny Buckley, was yesterday convicted on 10 counts of offences relating to tachograph and the organisation of drivers’ time.
Defence solicitor, former Kerry footballer Eoin Brosnan, said by way of mitigation that the company was an important local employer and had a clean record.
The solicitor also said the regulations were designed for heavy goods vehicles, not for tourist coach tour operators and that they were seeking to have transport regulations changed at national and at EU level.
Kerry Coaches Ltd of Woodlands Industrial Estate, Killarney, was originally summonsed by the Road Safety Authority on 22 allegations. State solicitor Ed O’Sullivan told Killarney District Court, on Tuesday, that 12 of the summonses were being withdrawn.
The company was pleading guilty to three sets of breaches of primarily EU transport legislation dealing with road transport, working and road safety regulations, the court was told.
RSA officer Jim Fleming, who conducted the investigation, gave evidence of visiting the company premises on February 19, 2014. He said in the June-July period of 2013, one company driver had worked for 44 consecutive days without the legally required rest period; and a second driver on a date at the start of August had worked for 27 days, again without the required rest periods .
Other offences related to operating a bus without records available for inspection; and there were periods of five to six hours where a small number of vehicles were without drivers’ cards.
However, Eoin Brosnan, solicitor, said up to 60% of his client’s business was golf tours, in April-October and a driver could be on a short journey and sitting in his vehicle for up to six hours until his clients finish golf — but this was still factored as a full day’s work.
He said coach tour operators are seeking changes in the regulations. They had met with the RSA andare to meet with Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe.
The court heard Kerry Coaches had no previous convictions, employed 60 people and 13 extra staff to ensure proper compliance.
Mr Brosnan said a representative was in court to give evidence of driver training in compliance and other matters. Senior footballer, Johnny Buckley, described in Kerry Coaches literature as the chief operations manager , was in court at the rear of the solicitors’ benches.
The penalties were up to €5,000 on each charge. Judge James O’Connor imposed fines totalling €450 on two summonses, taking the other eight counts into consideration.
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