FORMER Fianna Fail minister Sean Haughey is at the centre of a bitter row after an election candidate accused the party of using him to force her out of politics.
Mr Haughey will contest this summer's local elections in Dublin's Clontarf ward, following a late decision by Fianna Fail headquarters to add him to the party ticket.
The move has sparked tensions between Mr Haughey and sitting councillor Deirdre Heney, who was the only candidate chosen to run in Clontarf following a selection convention last month.
Ms Heney described the decision to add Mr Haughey to the ticket as "disappointing" and said it represented a direct attempt to "take me out of politics".
"I was quite surprised when I heard Sean Haughey was being added to the ticket, it's very disappointing to be honest. People close to me believe that this was orchestrated," she said.
"The way I view it is that he has been placed in my ward to give him a clear run at the next general election and to effectively take me out of politics.
"It appears that is what party headquarters wants, otherwise he would not have been put on top of me. I've built up a base in Clontarf over the past 10 years and I have worked extremely hard so I'm ready for a fight."
Mr Haughey did not return calls last night. However, a spokesman for the party said the decision reflected the belief that Fianna Fail could land two seats.
"Clontarf is now a six-seat local electoral area, and the party believes that it can win two of those seats. One in the form of excellent sitting councillor Deirdre Heney and the other in the form of former Lord Mayor and TD Sean Haughey. Both candidates are well placed to maximise the party's vote in the area and make us competitive for two seats."
Mr Haughey was among the dozens of TDs who lost their seats during Fianna Fail's collapse in 2011.
However, he was quickly appointed as an area representative and has been involved with the party locally.
Mr Haughey told constituents in February that he was withdrawing from the selection process for Dublin City Council after he became ill.
He subsequently told party bosses that he has changed his mind after being given a clean bill of health.
Although Mr Haughey's local base is the Donaghmede-Beaumont ward, the party took a decision to run him in the Clontarf ward. His close friend and former election agent,Sean Paul Mahon, was co-opted on to Dublin City Council in the Donaghmede-Beaumont ward after a seat became vacant.
Senior party sources believe that Mr Haughey will now seek to run for the Dail in the next general election if he wins a council seat in May.
"He's a vote getter, it's as simple as that. He knows politics inside out and he is very keen to get back into the Dail," said a senior source.