Senior ministers Noel Dempsey, Dermot Ahern and Tony Killeen have all announced they will retire at the election. Junior minister Michael Finneran has done likewise, as have a number of Fianna Fáil TDs.
But Mr O’Dea, himself a Cabinet minister until forced to step down last year after smearing a political rival, said the spate of retirements was “horrendous” and “demoralising” for the party.
He questioned what would be left of Fianna Fáil if more senior figures decided to go.
“If all the senior people in the party stand down, the question is will we have enough left to be intact as a party?
“It’s like the flight out of Egypt. It’s been a horrendous exodus and it’s very demoralising not only for the people who are staying, but for the troops on the ground. I am surprised and frankly I’m disappointed,” Mr O’Dea told the Limerick Leader.
Mr O’Dea follows junior minister Conor Lenihan in criticising senior ministers for departing.
Mr Lenihan took a thinly veiled swipe last month at ministers for not contesting the election.
“The party activists that I work with day in, day out, in my constituency are extremely annoyed at people who had great jobs, had great careers in Fianna Fáil over the years, [and] are now walking away at election time,” he said.
A total of 13 Fianna Fáil ministers and TDs have already announced they will not contest the election.
These are Bertie Ahern, Noel Dempsey, Dermot Ahern, Tony Killeen, Michael Finneran, Mary Wallace, Rory O’Hanlon, Michael Woods, Beverly Flynn, MJ Nolan, Tom Kitt, Sean Ardagh and Jimmy Devins.