Dog eat dog as Big Bob and the Terrier clash
LAST week it was Fine Gael at war. This week, the internecine squabbling spread to Fianna Fail. But it wasn't about Taoiseach Brian Cowen's leadership or dreadful opinion polls.
No, the "verbal altercation", with strenuously denied allegations of raised fists, was about a pack of bitches.
There were even accusations that one man had been licking the Taoiseach's "abdomen" and one protagonist refused to comment on speculation he had threatened to break the other's face.
In the red corner was Tipperary South's Mattie 'The Terrier' McGrath. And in the blue corner, Carlow-Kilkenny's Bobby 'Big Bob' Aylward.
The prize: the moral high ground on the dog breeding issue.
And to make the contest even spicier, the two protagonists had previously battled together against the dastardly John Gormley and his dog breeding bill. The near dust-up broke out after the Fianna Fail parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday night, where the bill had been discussed.
At the meeting, Mr Aylward said some FF TDs were bad-mouthing him and accusing him of caving in on the issue.
He told Mr Cowen, who was at the meeting, that some of his colleagues were accusing him of capitulating and "licking certain parts" of the Taoiseach's "abdomen".
"And I said: 'The smart arse fellas that were at it would want to find out the truth that what really I'm at is trying to keep the Government alive and trying to get an answer to problems here, rural problems, not doing any lick-arsing,'" Mr Aylward added.
Although he didn't initially name Mattie, Big Bob later accused The Terrier of badmouthing him.
"But I was just telling the truth, the truth is bitter," thundered The Terrier. The problem stemmed from a meeting 10 Fianna Fail TDs were due to have with Mr Gormley earlier this year.
"Minister Gormley was to attend, he didn't turn up," added Mattie.
"He sent word he wanted two or three of us to go down to his office.
"We agreed unanimously, the 10 of us, that we wouldn't go down to his office and he was to come up to our party room.
"There was no issue so, we left the room and Bobby went down to meet him. I don't operate that way."
At the end of Tuesday's meeting, Mr Aylward was called up the front to meet Agriculture Minster Brendan Smith but claimed he was confronted by Mr McGrath.
"Mattie comes up and starts off about another thing about John Gormley," Big Bob added. "'We wouldn't meet him and you went down and met him'. And I said: 'Will you ever f*** off'.
"It was a verbal altercation, that's all it was," Mr Aylward, who claimed he was pointing his finger in Mattie's face, said. "I said: 'Will you ever go away from me. You're the one who's spreading the rumours'."
But he wouldn't comment on speculation that he had asked Mattie: "Do you want your face broke?"
"It was a private conversation between Mattie and myself. I'm not going to say yes or no, what I said to him or what I didn't say to him.
"We didn't push one another, we didn't hit one another, we didn't touch one another. We had a verbal altercation, that's all we had."
The pair had kissed and made up by Wednesday night, when they had a few drinks together.