By Daniel McConnell, Political Editor
Mary Cowen, the wife of former Taoiseach Brian, has blasted former Fianna Fáil minister Mary Hanafin on social media over comments she made in relation to last weekend’s Ard Fhéis.
Mrs Cowen, in a closed private discussion group for Fianna Fáil members, launched the attack on Ms Hanafin earlier this week saying she is trying to dictate party policy even though she is not a member of Dáil Eireann.
The Irish Examiner has confirmed that Mrs Cowen did post the criticisms of Ms Hanafin in the online group, which is members’ only.
Mrs Cowen, or Mary Molloy Cowen as she is named on Facebook, strongly criticised the current Blackrock councillor, claiming that party leader Micheál Martin should "watch his back".
Mrs Cowen also made a number of references to Ms Hanafin's regular appearances on radio and in the media in recent days.
Remarks by Ms Hanafin to the Irish Independent that she had been approached by grassroots members who said they wanted her to influence party policy.
But in the private Fianna Fáil group, entitled “The Official Fianna Fáil registered members discussion page”, Mrs Cowen launched her attack on Ms Hanafin.
The message was posted to the group of 1,000 members yesterday evening, but has since been removed.
"Have just read the Irish Independent and I see an article about Mary Hanifin (sic) stating that Fianna Fáil members have called on her to influence party policy."
The Facebook post continues, claiming that Ms Hanafin is “not elected yet and she is running the party”.
And it adds: “Michael Martin better watch his back as there wouldn’t be to (sic) much loyalty there!!!!!!”
The comments from the former first lady of Irish politics drew responses from other members of the group, in which Mrs Cowen further criticised Ms Hanafin.
“She seems to be getting plenty of air and press time,” she says.
And in response to a comment from a member that Ms Hanafin is “never a team player”, Mrs Cowen replies: “That’s for sure”.
Ms Hanafin did not respond to queries from the Irish Examiner and neither did Mrs Cowen.
There have been longstanding animosities between the Hanafin and Cowen camps.
Ms Hanafin was demoted by Mr Cowen when he became Taoiseach in May 2008 and she in turn became a vocal critic of Cowen’s style of leadership in the wake of the collapse of that Government.
Most pointedly, Ms Hanafin made very pointed criticisms of Mr Cowen’s decision making as leader in an RTE documentary, which angered many close to the former leader.