A TRUCK driver who was sacked after pulling his lorry on to a motorway hard shoulder to take a call from the 'Gerry Ryan Show' was unfairly dismissed, a tribunal has ruled.
Noel Cawley (39) said he was "over the moon" after he was awarded €32,000 in compensation when an Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) agreed he was unfairly dismissed.
Mr Cawley was dismissed by Target Express in January 2010 -- 82 days after he was told off for pulling in on the M7 to speak to broadcaster Gerry Ryan.
Mr Cawley had apologised to his employer for taking the call but revealed he was in "happy land" and not "thinking straight" after he won €2,000 and a trip to London on the RTE 2fm radio show.
"I'm happy it is behind me now and I can find work," Mr Cawley said yesterday. "I feel vindicated and hope that somebody might look upon this and offer me work."
Mr Cawley had asked to be reinstated in his old job as an articulated truck driver, but he said the company made it clear this was "not an option".
The married father, who lives in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, has been trying to secure employment since his dismissal.
The EAT in Kilkenny previously heard Mr Cawley had delayed cargo by 24 minutes in November 2009 -- on the date he took the call from the 'Gerry Ryan Show'.
Mark Dunne, for the company, however, said Mr Cawley had not been sacked over the phone call but for a "serious breach of the company rules".
He said Mr Cawley had pulled in illegally on a motorway and alleged he had done an illegal U-turn on a national road.
Mr Cawley denied the illegal U-turn, insisting that he had turned on a broken white line.
Joe La Cumbre -- a former deputy chair of the ESB, who took on Mr Cawley's case on a no-fee basis as a trade unionist -- said he was "delighted" the driver's name had been cleared.