A senior Fianna Fáil TD has called on Micheál Martin to step down as party leader.
Carlow-Kilkenny representative John McGuinness told Newstalk that the party needs a change immediately.
He said it is too early to say who might take his place – but noted that he would consider running himself if the opportunity arose.
"Aggressive and contemptuous"
It comes after he sent a letter to Government Chief Whip Jack Whip blasting senior figures in the party for fostering an “aggressive and contemptuous culture” at the top.
He said party leadership was “sitting in a comfortable echo chamber” with “entirely unrealistic” views – and warned that party legends would be 'rotating at speed' in their graves at Fianna Fail's current state.
Speaking to Newstalk, he said it is now “time for change.”
“It is time to hand on that baton of leadership to someone that can take us into the next election and present us as a party that knows what it is about," he said.
“The time to do that is now.”
Deputy McGuinness made the call hours after Mr Martin called for unity at the party’s think-in in County Cavan.
Ahead of the meeting, the party published a major survey of party members which found that the majority believe it no longer has a clear identity.
Deputy McGuinness said his party has become indistinguishable from Fine Gael under Micheál Martin.
“I think he has done his bit,” he said. “He has done the best that he can.”
“Obviously he hasn’t changed – the polls show that; the ratings are poor. We need to find a narrative that separates us from Fine Gael. We have become too close to Fine Gael and any notion that we might go in with Fine Gael again as a Government … I think it is naïve to put that out there.
“The confidence and supply arrangement that we had was really very damaging for the party.”
He also took aim at the Taoiseach’s handling of the Katherine Zappone saga – accusing him of allowing the party to become the doormat that Fine Gael walks over.
“The timelines as explained through the committee - and I listened carefully to their proceedings - tell us that it was known to Fine Gael and Fine Gael senior ministers long before it was ever known to Micheál Martin,” he said.
“If you are going to put up with that for the future, that is a standard nobody can stand by.”
He said he would be open to standing for party leader:
“It’s at an early stage yet but I have always expressed an interest in it and I would consider that position should a vacancy arise,” he said. “As I have said, now is the time for that baton to shift on to another leader and another management system within the party headquarters.”
The Fianna Fáil think-in continues in Cavan today – with Brexit and the Northern Ireland protocol on the agenda.
The party will also its priorities for Budget 2022 as the country emerges from COVID restrictions.
Reporting from Tom Douglas