Fianna Fail was at war today as Noel Dempsey was described as a "failed minister" by a leading member of the party.
One of the party’s high-ranking executives, Jerry Beades, has also threatened to reveal embarrassing information about the crisis-prone Transport Minister.
The spat between Mr Dempsey and party executive Beades turned nasty last night with Minister Dempsey making “very derogatory remarks” about the Dublin businessman, he claimed.
Today, Mr Beades threatened to reveal some “very embarrassing” information about Dempsey unless a full public apology was forthcoming.
And he added: “I think he should be considering his position at this stage.”
The Herald understands that the row relates to a legal case between Mr Beades and Dublin City Council which took place while Mr Dempsey was in charge of the Department of Environment.
The astonishing development comes just hours after Taoiseach Brian Cowen admitted he is gravely unhappy with the situation within Fianna Fail and TD Jim McDaid suggested the Government is likely to collapse before Christmas.
Mr Dempsey this morning refused to engage with Mr Beades, saying he would not discuss issues raised at a private meeting of the national executive.
The row started last week after Mr Beades -- a campaigner in Bertie Ahern's constituency -- called for the Taoiseach to drop six ministers from his Cabinet, including Mr Dempsey.
The public statement was met with disdain from many within Fianna Fail but Mr Beades reiterated it in front of the Taoiseach last night.
The call to sideline Dempsey, Dermot Ahern, Mary Coughlan, Mary Harney, Eamon O Cuiv and Martin Cullen sparked a furious row with the Transport Minister raising issues from his time in the Department of Environment.
Mr Beades said their previous battles had nothing to do with the current situation but Dempsey is said to have been fuming.
Today, Mr Beades accused the Minister of being "very bitter" and "delving into matters which I had completely forgotten about".
"I will clarify those matters because they concern serious incompetence on his behalf."
However, the Herald can reveal that the incident raised by Mr Dempsey relates to a court case which Mr Beades won against Dublin City Council five years ago.
It is believed Mr Beades had been attempting to save himself the expense of going through the court process and asked Mr Dempsey to intervene with the city manager.
Sources have indicated Mr Dempsey said at last night's meeting that the reason Mr Beades was looking for his head was because the minister had failed to act on his request.
In 2005, Mr Beades won a case against the city council after he took an action arising from its handling of two planning applications made by his company, Jerry Beades Construction Ltd, in 1993 and 1994.
This morning, Mr Beades would only say that he had been subjected to a "personal attack from a failed minister".
"It could be very embarrassing for him," warned Mr Beades.
Mr Beades expressed no faith in Dempsey who was recently attacked for taking a sun holiday while the country grinded to a halt during the big freeze.
He has also been criticised in recent weeks over Dublin city's 30kph speed limit and trying to delay the opening of the N9 motorway in Kildare.
Brian Cowen, who was chairing last night's meeting of 90 party members, also spoke passionately about his own fears for Fianna Fail, reportedly saying: "Nobody's happy with the way things are in Fianna Fail and I'm the most unhappy of all."
It is understood that the Taoiseach is now considering a slightly more radical reshuffle that had been anticipated but he is highly unlikely to drop more than two of those key players.