A judge has banned a Bus Éireann driver from driving for one year after stating that he “is a danger on the road”.
At Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan imposed the 12-month driving ban and a €750 fine on Kenneth Folman (aged 43) of Gleann an Trá, Sandy Rd, Galway after convicting him of careless driving at Bunratty on October 25, 2018.
In the incident at roadworks at Bunratty, Mr Folman drove his Bus Éireann bus carrying passengers to Cork from Shannon Airport through over three traffic cones after "getting a bit thick" with the roadworks foreman.
In court, Judge Durcan said that Mr Folman tried to "bulldoze his way" in the situation.
He said: “Mr Folman’s conduct was nothing short of scandalous. He is obviously a man with a short temper and a short fuse.”
“Mr Folman is not in my view a person who should be driving at all. Any driver who behaves in the manner in how Mr Folman behaved is a danger on the road.”
Mr Folman was charged with dangerous driving and Judge Durcan said that he was satisfied that there was no element of dangerous driving and reduced the charge to driving without due care and attention.
Solicitor for Mr Folman, Daragh Hassett made a plea with Judge Durcan not to ban Mr Folman because of the impact it could have on his employment with Bus Éireann.
In response, Judge Durcan said: “I appreciate a disqualification will have a life-changing affect on your client but I feel my hands are tied.”
Sgt Louis Moloney told the court that on the day Mr Folman ignored all signs and advance warnings about the pending road closure and drove around the diversion onto the incorrect side of the roadway forcing vehicles to leave the road.
Sgt Moloney said that Mr Folman spoke with a member of the motorway maintenance crew and he was informed that the road was closed and to turn around.
According to Sgt Moloney, Mr Folman told the person that if he didn’t remove the cones he would drive through them before he drove through the traffic cones carrying three of them with the bus and exited back onto the dual carriageway.
Sgt Moloney said that Mr Folman has three previous driving convictions - careless driving, speeding and driving over a continuous white line.
In response, Mr Hassett said that Mr Folman wouldn’t have known the road was closed before he was on as the large sign informing motorists of a road closure wasn’t switched on.
Mr Hassett said: “He then lost his temper with the man who was berating him.
"He couldn’t reverse back, it was an enormous bus. You talk about three-point turns, this was a 33-point turn.”
Mr Hassett said that Mr Folman and the roadworks foreman “got a bit thick with each other”.
He said that at no time was any passenger put in danger and the road company hadn’t properly closed off the road.
Mr Hassett said: “Two wrongs don’t make a right and he was at the point of no return for his bus. The road company didn’t cover itself in glory - it cut corners in relation to what it did.”
Judge Durcan fixed recognisance in the event of an appeal and said that another judge may come to a different ruling concerning the driving ban.