Micheál Martin’s “lack of leadership” of his party has led to a stinging rebuke from his own TDs during a private meeting.
A palpable sense of frustration was expressed by TDs within the party, even among those who would be seen as loyalists to Mr Martin over the low standing of the party.
“We have lost the people. The party is in a bad place, and Micheál is not listening,” said one angry TD.
At a zoom teleconference meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, the Taoiseach was challenged directly by several of his party members including some of his own ministers who voiced concern about the gulf between the leadership and the TDs.
Several TDs said they agreed with the criticism of Mr Martin by Marc MacSharry who told Mr Martin he was failing on several fronts to lead.
He called on Mr Martin to stop conducting joint press conferences with Leo Varadkar.
Mr MacSharry is believed to have said: “Leo is wiping the floor with you and running rings around you. Every time you do it, you’re losing.”
Mr MacSharry also called on Mr Martin to stop the acting chief medical officer from appearing on television every night saying he is “scaring the bejaysus out of people”.
He likened the relationship between the leader of the party and his TDs to one of a teacher and pupils.
According to several sources, he said there is no leadership in the party, that there is no management of it, and the parliamentary party is expected to be empty vessels eager to learn from the master.
Kilkenny TD John McGuinness reportedly told his leader that the party is in real trouble and they have “lost the people” on foot of events in recent weeks, including golfgate.
Mr McGuinness reportedly told his colleagues that a new party executive is needed which would involve replacing current chair Brendan Smith.
Mr McGuinness said it was nothing personal against Mr Smith, but that the parliamentary party should be electing its own chair at the start of every Dáil, and not by acclamation as has been the case.
Several sources present at the meeting said Robert Troy, the junior trade minister, reportedly hit out at the lack of inclusion by Mr Martin and his senior ministers of input from backbench TDs, and even junior ministers, in the formation of Government policy.
Mr Troy confirmed that he spoke at the meeting, but would not specify what he said out of respect for confidentiality.
MEPs Barry Andrews and Billy Kelleher were also said to be critical of the lack of a review into the “disastrous” general election result for the party in February.
Several FF TDs say the mood within the party is “very bad”, with one saying that if the country were in another place “something would have happened by now”.
Mr Martin is said to have told his members that the selection of a chair and the executive is a matter for him to decide.