BERTIE Ahern last night plunged another dagger in the back of Fianna Fail candidate Mary Fitzpatrick when he wrote to voters asking them to give their first preference to her running mate, Cyprian Brady.
There is a long history of bad blood between Mr Ahern and his team and Ms Fitzpatrick, whose own team reacted with fury to what it called "sabotage" by Mr Ahern in his last act as local party kingmaker.
Last time out, Mr Ahern's team printed 30,000 letters asking voters to put Mr Ahern number one and Mr Brady number two and delivered them to every home in the constituency from 4am on polling day.
In 2007, Mr Ahern won in Dublin Central with an astonishing 12,734 first preferences and his transfers delivered the seat on the eighth count to Mr Brady who had just 939.
Ms Fitzpatrick, who had nearly double Mr Brady's first preferences, went out on the fifth count in 2007 -- but she topped the poll in the local government elections in 2009.
In the letter delivered by post yesterday morning, Ms Fitzpatrick was dismissed in a single sentence at the end of a long appeal in which Mr Ahern urges voters to give their number one preference to sitting Fianna Fail TD, Mr Brady.
The latest move undermining Ms Fitzpatrick -- daughter of Dermot Fitzpatrick, the former Fianna Fail TD for Dublin Central -- delivered on the eve of polling is another of what are described as acts of "sabotage" masterminded by Mr Ahern.
The former Taoiseach mentions Mr Brady's name 12 times -- once even in bold type -- in the single-page letter that also refers to the peace process and international trade missions.
Last night, Ms Fitzpatrick said: "I'm not surprised, it's par for the course. I hope the people will give their verdict on it."
Mr Ahern wrote: "I am very proud to endorse Cyprian Brady and to respectfully ask people to give him their number one vote in this election."
Mr Ahern went on to say that he respected all of the candidates contesting the election in Dublin Central.
But the former Taoiseach and retiring TD for the area includes Ms Fitzpatrick in a single sentence near the bottom of his letter.
He wrote: "This election is a challenging one for FF and I would also ask people to consider transferring to our other candidate, Mary Fitzpatrick, who I also admire greatly."
Ms Fitzpatrick's campaign team, which is struggling to win the last seat for her in the four-seat constituency, reacted with fury to Mr Ahern's letter.
One of Ms Fitzpatrick's closest supporters said: "It is the final insult, an act of sabotage, before he retires from the Dail.
"Mary is by far the stronger Fianna Fail candidate and by endorsing Cyprian Brady, Bertie is handing the seat to Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald."
Ms Fitzpatrick accused Mr Ahern's team of sabotaging her campaign in the 2007 General Election campaign in an RTE radio documentary.
In the documentary, Ms Fitzpatrick said: "I never thought they were the Legion of Mary, I never thought they would do me any favours. I thought my insurance policy was that they needed a second seat."
She added: "So I didn't think they'd go out to completely undermine me and shaft me."