Belfast Telegraph

Driver's ban lifted because public transport is so poor

A district judge has removed the driving ban from a disqualified motorist after his solicitor criticised the poor quality of Northern Ireland's public transport network.

The banned driver’s solicitor argued that the inadequacies of the bus and train network was making it very difficult for his client to travel for work and for that reason he should get his licence back.

Lawyer Seamus Quigley made the comments at the Magistrate's Court in Londonderry during his application to have his client's 10-year driving ban lifted.

Geoffrey Falconer (48) a fitter from Faughan Crescent in Drumahoe just outside Derry, had been disqualified from driving for 10 years in February 2007 following his convictions for a number of motoring offences.

The exact nature of Mr Falconer’s driving breaches which led to the decade-long ban being imposed were not disclosed in court yesterday.

Drivers ordered off the road for long periods can apply to have their disqualification cut short after they have served a portion of the ban, usually more than half.

Mr Quigley told District Judge Barney McElholm that despite his long disqualification period, the applicant had managed to stay in steady employment for the past five years.

He said: “That has involved him travelling to Larne, to Belfast and to Dublin during difficult recessionary times.

“He has had to overcome the poor quality of Northern Ireland's publicly-funded train and bus service which hasn't made it easy for him to remain in steady work,” he added.

A section of the railway linking Belfast and Derry closed in July for nine months for upgrading.

The track between Derry and Coleraine will not reopen until April 2013.

A replacement bus service is in place for travellers using that part of the line.

Judge McElholm made no comment on the validity of the solicitor’s argument for the lifting of the driving ban or on the quality of the transport system, but granted the application with immediate effect.

This will enable Mr Falconer to apply for a provisional licence.

He will still have to re-sit his driving test before being allowed back on the road.

Belfast Telegraph

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