Labour TD Alan Kelly was criticised by party colleagues over his apparent move on leader Brendan Howlin on TV3 on Sunday, writes Daniel McConnell.
During an interview, Mr Kelly suggested Mr Howlin had less than six months to revive the pary or face a heave.
At a private meeting of party members today, Mr Kelly was criticised for his “ill-judged” attack and was urged to keep such matters internal.
Mr Kelly responded by saying he was merely voicing the concerns of members.
Others present said they shared concerns but said Mr Kelly was wrong to give public voice to them.
Mr Kelly, a former Environment Minister, tried to contest the leadership in May 2016. But after a prolonged stand-off he failed to get a TD to second his nomination, and Mr Howlin was eventually returned as leader without a vote of the party members.
Appearing on TV3 on Sunday afternoon, Mr Kelly told presenter, Sarah McInerney, that Mr Howlin had his support as leader but he also warned that time was running short.
Deputy Kelly said: "Brendan Howlin has my support, however, however - let me say this very clearly - we need to see a dramatic change in how our support base is responding to us," he said.
"We also need to see changes across a whole range of other issues.
"We are now two years from the past general election. We have loads of brilliant councillors and candidates out there. We need to see a dramatic change in the coming months for the support base of the Labour Party," he added.
In a previous interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr Howlin understood Mr Kelly was disappointed at not getting the support needed to allow him to contest the leadership. He also said he accepted Mr Kelly's decison to snub his victory press conference.
“Of course, I have spoken to him about it, I spoke to him the next day about it. I think Alan was disappointed with the outcome. He wanted to be a candidate himself. He felt that, because of the perceived controversy, it would have been a discordial thing for him to be there,” he said.
“Which was fine, I accepted that and he is a fully signed-up member of the team.”
“I felt we should settle the leadership issue quickly and that was the view shared by everyone else in the party apart from Alan Kelly.”
Do you not see the irony of the socially democratic party denying a candidate’s chances to run?
“The constitution is that a candidate be nominated by another member of the party and it is not a tall order, just one other member.
“Every other single member of the party thought that I was the right person for the job and they wanted it done.”