Party discipline within Fianna Fáil appeared to be breaking down yesterday, with Taoiseach Micheál Martin coming under intense fire over his ministerial appointments.
Veteran Limerick TD Willie O’Dea joined the mounting chorus of discontent over the Taoiseach’s ministerial choices, saying he “insulted” the people of Limerick.
Mr O’Dea accused Mr Martin of “letting down” the people of Limerick City by not picking a minister from there.
“I am bitterly disappointed for the people of Limerick that the third city of the Republic and economic driver of the Mid-West has been completely overlooked for either senior or junior ministerial appointments,” he said.
“I have been inundated with messages from people who feel let down and grossly insulted. There are three Government TDs out of four in Limerick City, yet Micheál Martin has felt it appropriate to insult all the people of Limerick City with this decision. It's strange if he thinks that we can deliver three out of four after this."
Mr O'Dea, a former Cabinet minister, also said Mr Martin’s treatment of Dublin Bay South TD Jim O’Callaghan was "despicable". He said deputy leader Dara Calleary and former party whip and Cork North West TD Michael Moynihan were "treated shabbily" by the Taoiseach.
Mr Moynihan, on Cork's C103FM, said: “The last 12 or 14 hours has driven me harder by the response that I've got".
Mr Moynihan said he is going to work harder than ever saying: "I will be a thorn in the side of the government".
Mr Moynihan revealed the details of what he said to Mr Martin on Wednesday: "It was a full and frank discussion. I gave it to him both barrels. We had a very fraught discussion, I explained a few home truths to him. It was a very frank discussion.”
Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath sought to defend the appointments, saying all three party leaders in the coalition had “incredibly difficult decisions” to make.
“The Taoiseach and the other party leaders had incredibly difficult decisions to make when it came to selecting the team to serve at Cabinet and indeed as a minister of state. There are a lot of disappointed people,” said Mr McGrath.
“Politics is a tough business, some people have spoken out others haven’t. Life has to go on,” he said.
Mr McGrath said he did not think his colleagues were treated shabbily as described by Mr O’Dea.
Mr Martin said: "It was tough on him, but Dara is very experienced and I need a very experienced chief whip. He will have additional responsibilities and former chief whips like Seamus Brennan and Mary Hanafin who went on to have stellar careers.”
“But the challenge facing the three leaders was there was a limited number of portfolios, and in the ones we got, I wanted people who could hit the ground running," he said, referring to Stephen Donnelly who was a surprise choice as health minister and Darragh O'Brien as housing minister.