LABOUR TDs and senators are in revolt against draconian attempts by embattled leader Eamon Gilmore to discipline those he suspects are leaking critical stories to the press.
The Sunday Independent has learned that Mr Gilmore recently told the Labour parliamentary party that he plans to bring in a "code of conduct with a range of sanctions for those who are leaking against Labour''.
Mr Gilmore's hardline approach comes in the wake of growing criticism of his partner in Government, Taoiseach Enda Kenny's authoritarian style of leadership, which was blamed by some for the defeat in the referendum to abolish the Seanad. However, Mr Gilmore is desperate to improve the party's image after the most recent national opinion poll showed Labour at a rock bottom six per cent.
It is understood Mr Gilmore told TDs and senators that expulsion from the party "is the nuclear option".
However, he said, he instead wanted to bring in a range of "lower sanctions". One TD told the Sunday Independent: "He was there with the pink face, the chest puffed out and the finger wagging, telling us he had been thinking about this for some time; apparently it's going to be a team-work code."
Mr Gilmore's proposed new sanctions against those who leak are unlikely to be warmly received by his uneasy party who are already leaking vigorously against the code of conduct.
One source noted: "It has shades of bringing back the old Workers' Party steering group – we're all going to be prosecuted for thought-crimes against the Dear Leader. This is the Workers' Party ethic taking over Labour."
Another Labour TD said: "He doesn't know much about the tradition of Labour if he wants to stop us all leaking against each other, it's like the Politburo, no one will be allowed to speak their mind."
Senior party figures dismissed Mr Gilmore's attempts to keep a tighter leash on his critics.
One told the Sunday Independent: "How is this going to operate?
"If Gilmore asks me if I leaked something and I say 'no', what's he going to do then?"
A Labour TD added: "Whoever is going to be in charge of this is going to have a hard task. Their first job will be to discipline some of the ministers after all the leaking and complaining they are doing about Joan Burton, if of course this new code is going to be applied to everyone."