TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has hit back at Fianna Fail claims that he is a Mussolini style-dictator who has no time for people opposed to his views.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin accused Mr Kenny of operating a 'una duce, una voce' style of leadership where dissension is not tolerated.
Mr Martin used the Italian fascist's motto when criticising Mr Kenny's drive to abolish the Seanad.
Mr Kenny is refusing to enter into a TV debate with Mr Martin on the abolition of the Seanad, a move Fianna Fail is opposing because it claims it will concentrate too much power in the hands of the Government.
But, speaking at the close of the Fine Gael parliamentary party think-in in Co Laois, Mr Kenny said the Fianna Fail leader "should know better".
"It ill behoves any member of the Fianna Fail party to accuse me of being a dictator," Mr Kenny said. "Far from that, I am probably the most open person who has handled this office. I reject the political assertion made by Deputy Martin."
He also said the people he appointed to the Seanad – the Taoiseach can appoint 11 people to the Upper House – were mostly Independents.
"I had the privilege of appointing people to the Seanad. The vast majority were completely and utterly independent. They were never contacted by me subsequent to that asking them to support the Government on any bill or on any vote."
But speaking at his own think-in in Waterford, Mr Martin said the Taoiseach has ruthlessly moved to crush dissent within his own party and even stifle debate within the Dail.
"How would I put it... (the) una duce, una voce approach of Enda Kenny and his people," he said.
"Such a dictatorial approach that people are almost afraid to articulate their view."
The motto was famously quoted by former government press secretary PJ Mara in reference to Fianna Fail's need for unity under former Taoiseach Charles Haughey in the 1980s, although Mr Mara also added: "In other words there'll be no more nibbling at my leader's bum".
Mr Martin said he was taken aback by Fine Gael's ruthless treatment of those who hold dissenting opinions, such as Lucinda Creighton.
It came as Mr Kenny warned it would be "very difficult" for the TDs who lost the whip to run at the next election for the party.
The FF leader said Mr Kenny was now "running scared" of a public debate on Seanad reform.
Mr Kenny says the issue can be debated in the Dail.