Waterford Fine Gael TD John Deasy has hit out at party rivals Paudie Coffey and Maurice Cummins saying he won't listen to people “who couldn't get elected to the Dáil”.
In a fresh twist to the bitter row within the party, Mr Deasy said he welcomed a commitment from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to conduct a review into the split within the Fine Gael organisation in Waterford.
Mr Varadkar said as leader of the party, he must take Mr Deasy's allegations of bullying and intimidation seriously and a review will occur once the Dáil goes into recess.
For his part, Mr Deasy said it is clear now that for the first time Fine Gael is making clear there will be a review into the organisation in the constituency.
“For that reason, this whole saga may have been a good thing. It almost needed to happen and if we finally get that serious review into the goings on in the organisation, that is a result,” Mr Deasy told the Irish Examiner.
Mr Deasy was speaking in response to criticism voiced about him by Senator Paudie Coffey and former Senate leader Maurice Cummins in recent days following the vote of no confidence in him by local Fine Gael members.
The motion of no confidence was tabled by Mr Coffey's brother Eoin at the meeting on Monday.
Mr Deasy hit out at his two party rivals in trenchant terms.
Mr Deasy said:
“It is weird, quite honestly, listening to Paudie Coffey and Maurice Cummins telling me how to do my job when both of them couldn't get elected to the Dáil.”
Commenting on the nature of the abuse suffered by him and his supporters by others in the Waterford organisation, Mr Deasy said: “I have become de-sensitised to these personal attacks, I have been dealing with a mob within the Fine Gael organisation for almost 20 years.”
Mr Cummins responded by saying he would treat Mr Deasy's comments "with the contempt that they deserve".
He said he would fully welcome any investigation into the bitter row by party bosses but said he will not engage in personalised attacks on Mr Deasy. "I deal in facts. I have a long record in public service so I would welcome fully such an investigation."
Mr Varadkar praised Mr Deasy's work in the US said his allegations will be investigated.
The Taoiseach said: “I know John Deasy quite well; I appointed him as a representative in the United States. He’s done a very good job in that regard.
"He hasn’t to date come to me with evidence of bullying in Waterford, but if he’s now making that allegation, well, then that has to be taken seriously and that has to be investigated."
"As I say, there’s a longstanding split in the organisation there – it’s come to a head – and we need to bring it to a close, and I intend to do that as party leader over the next couple of months.”
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said any allegations of bullying will be treated “very, very seriously”.
“I am not aware of the claims but I listened to Deputy Deasy yesterday. Any allegations of bullying in our party are treated very, very seriously as you would expect.
"Clearly, we have a fractious relationship and atmosphere within our organisation there and our General Secretary Tom Curran will be meeting the members of that organisation promptly,” he said.