By Elaine Loughlin and Juno McEnroe
Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan has launched a blistering attack on Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy during a private meeting of the parliamentary party.
The Kildare TD, during a 25-minute speech, hit out at Mr Murphy’s record on housing, and criticised his colleagues for not standing by swing-gate TD Maria Bailey.
Senior members of the party, including Ministers Regina Doherty and Brendan Griffin, rallied the troops during the meeting tonight, claiming that they must go into the next general election fighting.
It is understood that Mr Griffin told his colleagues that the party cannot stand by and hand back power to Micheál Martin, Willie O’Dea and Éamon Ó Cuív and allow them “make a balls of everything again”.
The meeting was told that Fianna Fáil is already lining up government advisers to work for them after the next general election and members were urged to step up and fight even harder to retain and win seats.
In a rare contribution, former finance minister Michael Noonan said Fine Gael now need to ensure that people are fully aware of the good job the party have done in turning the economy around.
However, Mr Durkan told the meeting that a solution to the housing crisis needs to be implemented immediately and not in six months time.
It is understood he said he had tried to raise the issue with Mr Murphy but had been ignored, and that there is now massive public anger over the issue especially around the number of homeless children in the country.
The housing minister did not respond to Mr Durkan, however, Health Minister Simon Harris strongly defended his Cabinet colleague.
While Mr Durkan did not mention Ms Bailey by name he said a female member of the party had been harassed on social media and no one in the party had come out to defend her.
Offaly TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy went on to name Ms Bailey and said she agreed that she had not been supported by members of Fine Gael.