Martin caught in row over leaked Hanafin minutes
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has been dragged into a bitter row over the leaking of minutes which record former minister Mary Hanafin as launching a ferocious attack on the party's performance.
Mr Martin last night expressed disappointment that the minutes of the February meeting of the party's Dun Laoghaire branch made their way into the public domain.
The Irish Independent revealed that Ms Hanafin is recorded as describing Fianna Fáil as being in "stalemate", saying it "stands for nothing, has no vision and agrees with the Government on everything".
Citing Ms Hanafin, the minutes state: "FF - supposed to be main opposition Party. FF is currently at Stale Mate [sic]."
The documents adds: "Party stands for nothing, has no vision, and agrees with government on everything.
"Not opposing anything at the moment. SF capitalising on FF."
The ex-TD has claimed that her remarks were "distorted" and taken completely out of context. She is accusing members of the Dun Laoghaire branch of trying to damage her ahead of the ard fheis and upcoming selection convention.
But branch officers are standing over the minutes, which they insist are accurate.
Branch chairman Morgan Shelley and secretary Vinny Duran Kearns have told colleagues that they took "contemporaneous notes" which fully support the minutes.
Neither individual wished to comment when contacted.
Party headquarters is now likely to become involved in the dispute as Ms Hanafin considers whether to formally challenge the accuracy of the minutes.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Martin expressed concern about the leaking of the minutes.
"My only concern is that I don't think minutes and meetings like that should be verbally reiterated again," he said.
"There is a tradition within the party that if people want to say things at meetings they should be allowed to without any fear that it is going to end up else in two months' time," he added.
The comments by Ms Hanafin and the disclosure of the minutes have heightened tensions within the branch ahead of this weekend's ard fheis, as well as the upcoming selection convention.
Ms Hanafin is being challenged for the nomination by sitting councillors Cormac Devlin, Kate Feeney and Jennifer Cuffe.