A former Fianna Fail European election candidate has strongly attacked the party's performance on the eve of its Ard Fheis.
Mary Fitzpatrick, an ex-Dublin City councillor, warned that the party faces decline unless it changes its electoral strategy.
"Fianna Fail’s senior strategists should stop being defensive, recognise its failures, and change its electoral strategy if it is to stave off long term decline and avoid finding itself a small, niche, rural (predominantly male) party after the next General election," Ms Fitzpatrick said.
Ms Fitzpatrick, who intends to stand in the Dublin Central constituency, said it appears the party 'has missed opportunity after opportunity and recovery appears increasingly more elusive'.
She said this is particularly evident in Dublin.
Writing on her website, Ms Fitzpatrick criticised a claim by party leader Micheal Martin that Fianna Fail must look to 'candidates of the future'.
“The party was decimated in 2011 and there are no sitting TDs in Dublin or in half the country’s constituencies. So of course there are new faces and there are also longer serving faces,” she said.
“One of the only upsides of the 2011 Fianna Fail wipe-out was that for the first time in generations Fianna Fail has space for new people, fresh energy and fresh ideas. However, to construe the presence of new faces as a sign of real change or real recovery is a dangerous delusion,” she added.
Ms Fitzpatrick was arguably Fianna Fail’s most impressive councillor in Dublin City. She relinquished her seat in order to pursue a run in the European elections. She polled third on first preferences but was later defeated.
Ms Fitzpatrick was left furious in previous general elections after former party leader Bertie Ahern asked Fianna Fail members to give their number two votes to her competitor Cyprian Brady.
Fine Gael has ratcheted up the election pressure by issuing an edict that all selection conventions be done and dusted by October – six months ahead of the General Election, should the government run its full term.