I don't think much of Martin and the party's doing brutal – Bertie
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has criticised Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, stating he doesn't "think much of him".
He also claimed the party was doing "fairly brutal" despite being neck-and-neck with Fine Gael in the latest polls. Following a private Fianna Fail meeting for a local election candidate in Dublin last night, Mr Ahern played down his party role, insisting he was just giving a "dig out" for the son of a close friend and party member.
And, after urging the party faithful to get out on the doorsteps and canvas, Mr Ahern revealed he had a "a gammy leg" so couldn't go himself.
Mr Ahern was addressing a crowd of around 50 Fianna Fail members in his former Drumcondra heartland at the Skylon Hotel, in support of local election candidate Brian Mohan.
Sitting at the top table, Mr Ahern told the crowd: "We still all support the party. We still all support Fianna Fail.
"I don't think much of the leader, I think you all know that. I'm not going to say anything nice about him," he said.
Mr Ahern, who resigned from Fianna Fail in March 2012 after party members motioned for his removal following the findings of the Mahon Tribunal, said that Fianna Fail was not performing well in polls – but insisted that he was not a member of the party, which was met by laughter at the event.
"The party is doing fairly brutal. I'm not a member but this is a meeting of supporters for Brian. But that's the hard reality (that the party is doing badly)," he said.
In a rallying address in which he said he was confident Fianna Fail could retake a seat in May's local elections he urged party members to get out on the campaign trial.
He told the crowd Mr Mohan had approached him seeking his advice last year and told members he was there to "muster some support" for the campaign.
When approached after the event and asked to clarify his remarks, he said: "No we're only out trying to help (Brian).
"His da helped me for years so we're trying to help him," he said. He earlier said Brian Mohan's father Noel had "worked his toenails off for me".
"This is only friends. I'm friends with Brian you know so we're just trying to give him a dig out."
When asked about his role at the meeting after the event, he told the Irish Independent: "I'm just trying to give him advice. I have a gammy leg so I can't do too much work but I've been trying to help him out and give him a bit of advice."
Asked afterwards about his comment in relation to Mr Martin, he responded: "No, I've no problem with any of them.
"No, I said I have nothing against him. I've no connections with him."
He added: "I said nothing bad against him either. I'm just trying to help him out."
Mr Ahern was well-briefed as he told members 1,200 votes would get Mr Mohan elected.