Garda association and bus union both say they are not responsible for policing rule

There is confusion over the enforcement of new guidelines that make wearing face coverings on public transport mandatory, with neither a garda association or the National Bus and Train Union (NBRU) saying they are responsible.
Antoinette Cunningham, general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), said enforcement of the regulations, which came into force on Monday, rested with transport operators and the National Transport Authority (NTA).
The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has said its members will not be policing mandatory face coverings either.
Those found not to be wearing face coverings on public transport can face fines of up to 2,500 as well as a possible jail sentence of six months for refusing to do so.
Under the regulations a bus driver or other relevant person can request that a passenger wear a face covering. They can ask them to leave a vehicle if they are not wearing one, or refuse them entry. If a person does not comply, and does not have a reasonable excuse, gardaí could be called.
NBRU general secretary Dermot OLeary said it is not the role of bus or train drivers to enforce the rules as the role of its members was to drive not to police the law of the land.
He suggested the confusion was the fault of the Government for making it mandatory to wear face coverings on public transport consulting anybody.
The National Transport Authority has been contacted for comment on the matter.
Transport police
Mr OLeary told RTÉs Today with Sarah McInerney programme that the confusion showed there was a need for a public transport police unit, as found in some other countries.
The people who make laws should speak to the people who they expect to implement them, in this case the gardaí and resource the gardaí. There has been no consultation here, he siad.
Ms Cunningham earlier said the statutory instrument introducing the regulations says that responsibility for enforcement rests with the transport operator.
While she acknowledged it was not a bus drivers job to police the law, she said it was not the job of the gardaí to check up on people using public transport.
The regulations were clear, she told RTÉs Morning Ireland, and if a driver asked a person to wear the mask and they refused, then gardaí would assist.
The relevant person has to act in the first instance. When all those fail, we will then assist if required.
Ms Cunningham also said this was a case of poor consultation between legislators and those expected to enforce regulations. She also queried if it was appropriate work for gardaí to go into pubs to check if food was being served, if social distancing measures were being observed and appropriate protective equipment was being worn by staff.
The representative body for private bus and coach operators, the Coach Tourism and Transport Council, said its members were disappointed the Government did not engage with the sector.
The councils chairman John Halpenny said its members carry 70 million passengers a year and want to comply with public health regulations.
Instead, we have no clarity regarding our legal obligations or our potential exposure but instead are appraised of the changes through the media, he said.
Operating in such a legal lacunae has very real and obvious consequences going by the needless death of a bus driver who was involved in a serious confrontation with passengers over their failure to wear facemasks in France in the past few days.