The general-secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) says legislation is now needed so people will wear face coverings on public transport.
Dermot O’Leary told Newstalk Breakfast a clear policy should replace mixed messages.
"This is a public health issue, it is not an industrial relations issue.
"This is a concern about commuters and society at large travelling on public transport.
"If you don't have clear policy from the top, if you don't have leadership - which is distinctly lacking here - handing over political decisions, albeit in a public health crisis, has shown and demonstrated that the mixed messages coming from the health and indeed the scientific community has led to this confusion across society I would say".
"I'm hoping that the leadership will be forthcoming, I'm hoping the debate is heightened to such a level now that those in positions of authority will make that decision sooner rather than later".
"I'm told it will be raised again this week directly with NPHET in relation to the face coverings.
"And I think there's a groundswell now of support out there in the medical community and the scientific community.
"I've heard some of the negative connotations around why we shouldn't have a policy on it, and some people have difficulty wearing masks.
"I think people know full-well the etiquette they have to practice now."
"The policy has to come, and I would suggest at this stage we need legislation to ensure that people wear face coverings on public transport and other crowded areas."
It comes as the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is meeting to discuss people wearing face coverings in public.
And earlier this week, the WHO special envoy on COVID-19 appealed to Irish people to wear face coverings on public transport.
Dr David Nabarro said: "Nobody wants to compel people to do particular things, it's much better if people themselves decide to do it."
But he said he believes these are necessary.
"There are people who work, driving vehicles or at the platforms of railway stations, who because of their occupation are necessarily in contact with perhaps several hundred people a day and they may well be exposed because an individual may not know that they have COVID.
"They might be at the very earliest stage of their infection".
"It's the people with whom we're in contact that we need to worry about the most.
"We ourselves of course we can make decisions about ourselves and we can decide how much risk we're prepared to take.
"But the person who's serving us, looking after us, caring for us, cleaning for us: they're the ones who are most at risk".