FORMER Minister Mary Hanafin has reacted angrily after minutes from her local Fianna Fail branch meeting record her as launching a ferocious attack on the party's performance.
Ms Hanafin is recorded as describing Fianna Fail as being in "stalemate", saying the party is one which "stands for nothing, has no vision and agrees with the Government on everything".
The minutes of the February meeting of the Fianna Fail Dun Laoghaire branch were circulated at a meeting of the party on Monday.
A copy of the minutes have been obtained by the Herald.
Ms Hanafin is recorded as accusing Fianna Fail of under- performing as the lead opposition party and stating that Sinn Fein is capitalising on the party's weaknesses.
Citing Ms Hanafin, the minutes state: "FF - supposed to be main opposition Party. FF is currently at Stale Mate [sic]."
The documents adds: "Party stands for nothing, has no vision, and agrees with government on everything.
"Not opposing anything at the moment. SF capitalising on FF."
Ms Hanafin last night confirmed that she was critical of the party's performance at the meeting, held in February, but said the minutes represent a "distortion of her views".
"This is an intentional oversimplification and is selective of a much longer and broader contribution," she told the Herald.
Ms Hanafin said she was making the remarks following an address to the meeting by Fianna Fail senator Labhras O Murchu. She said she was trying to illustrate that Mr O Murchu is consistently elected to the Seanad "because people know what he stands for".
"I was making the point at the meeting that we need to show the public exactly what we do stand for," Ms Hanafin added.
The meeting in Dun Laoghaire was attended by councillors Cormac Devlin and Kate Feeney, who are also contesting the upcoming selection convention for the General Election.
Cllr Jennifer Cuffe also declared herself as a candidate yesterday in a move that has taken some within the party by surprise.
But the details of the remarks by Ms Hanafin are sure to annoy the party leadership.
Ms Hanafin has criticised the performance of the party before, insisting that Fianna Fail is destined for the opposition benches for a second consecutive term. Privately, many senior party sources agree with Ms Hanafin's assessment, however, publicly Mr Martin has said he is preparing to become the next Taoiseach.
Nonetheless, the extraordinary language cited in the minutes is likely to damage Ms Hanafin's chances at the convention. The event will be one of the most closely watched to be held by any political party.
This is due to the rivalry between Ms Hanafin and Ms Feeney which dates back to the local election campaign.
Ms Feeney reacted furiously after the former TD became a Fianna Fail local election candidate after being approached by party headquarters.
In recent months, a rivalry has also developed between Ms Hanafin's supporters and Mr Devlin. The tensions between the different camps have led to the convention being dubbed 'The Battle of Blackrock'.
Speaking to the Herald last night, Ms Cuffe said she has "no intention" of becoming involved in "any of the controversies.
"I'm not interested in rivalries. I want to secure the nomination and continue to help rebuild Fianna Fail," she said.