TAOISEACH Enda Kenny became embroiled in an ill-tempered spat last night with one of his own Fine Gael TDs who criticised his approach to the Seanad referendum campaign.
The Taoiseach was accused of "losing his head" with a Fine Gael deputy who said Mr Kenny ran away during the last days of the campaign, and criticised him for not taking part in a debate on his own initiative.
Other TDs "licked Kenny's arse" by apologising to him for not campaigning hard enough.
Waterford TD John Deasy pressed Mr Kenny on the Seanad at the weekly parliamentary party meeting, claiming it was mostly Fine Gael votes who "flipped" in the run-up to polling day, which led to the tight No vote, and said the Government "took them for granted".
Mr Deasy, who opened by saying he didn't go to all parliamentary party meetings, told Mr Kenny: "You created this issue but you ran away from it in the last week."
Mr Kenny responded sharply and while some TDs downplayed the spat with Mr Deasy, others said Mr Kenny starting "ranting".
"The Taoiseach rose to it, it got personal," one senator said.
Mr Deasy then told the Taoiseach: "Enda, don't start with me.
"You're completely out of order. You ran away from this."
The meeting wrapped up soon after the argument.
The pair have a turbulent history, and Mr Kenny sacked Mr Deasy from the Fine Gael opposition front bench in 2004 for smoking in the Dail member's bar just days after the smoking ban was introduced.
Mr Deasy also opposed Mr Kenny in the Fine Gael heave in 2010.
Fine Gael leader in the Seanad, Maurice Cummins, spoke on behalf of all senators and told Mr Kenny they were "hurt" by the tone of Fine Gael campaign, especially the focus on the disputed claim that the Seanad cost €20m.
Mr Cummins also said it left "open wounds", adding "things were said that shouldn't have been said" but said everyone should unite and move on.
Mr Deasy and other TDs also questioned Mr Kenny's reliance on advisers, with Dublin North TD Alan Farrell asking Mr Kenny to "look at the advice you're getting".