Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has been accused of not showing any "balls" over plans for a directly elected mayor for Dublin.
Fianna Fáil's Dublin spokesman John Lahart attacked Mr Murphy as he hit out at plans that would see Cork leapfrog Dublin to get Ireland's first directly elected mayor.
The proposals, revealed by the Irish Independent, are contained in a policy paper that is to go to Cabinet.
It would see Cork as a test ground for such an office before there would be an elected mayor in Dublin.
Mr Lahart has been pushing for a plebiscite in the capital on a directly elected mayor who would tackle housing and transport.
He said yesterday that the latest proposal is "hugely disappointing" and a "missed opportunity". He claimed the government is "scared" of devolving power to the capital and that the plan to go with Cork first is being driven by the civil service.
He accused Mr Murphy - whose department has responsibility for local government - of taking his lead from officials on the matter.
He added: "The minister hasn't shown any balls in this at all".
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, who like Mr Lahart, has put forward legislation on a directly elected mayor, argued that a "lack of leadership is holding Dublin back".
He said the proposal pits Dublin against Cork at a time when Ireland's cities "have to hold their own against the rest of the world".
Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys has also criticised the plan, claiming that it is an "insult to Dublin" after the capital has led the campaign for a directly elected mayor for decades.
A statement from Mr Murphy's department did not directly address the criticism.
It said the policy paper on local authority leadership and governance is part of a Government commitment to consider directly elected mayors.
Subject to Cabinet approval, the report will be considered by the cross-party Oireachtas Committee on Housing Planning and Local Government.