The Taoiseach has said he will be stepping in to sort out a “long-standing split” in the Fine Gael party in County Waterford.
Tensions in the county simmered over this week as party members passed a motion of no confidence in sitting TD John Deasy.
The motion was tabled by the brother of Deputy Deasy’s long-time constituency rival Senator Paudie Coffey.
The motion was unanimously passed party members attending the meeting.
Many local members think Mr Deasy hasn't been doing the job over the last few years – and particularly since taking up a position as envoy to the US.
For his part, Deputy Deasy claimed there had been bullying within Fine Gael at local level for years.
He said his own supporters stopped attending similar meetings years ago.
An ally of his has since lodged a bullying complaint the Taoiseach will now have to deal with.
Taoiseach and Paschal Donohoe launching the National Economic Dialogue this morning. The best of the Dialogues if you ask me pic.twitter.com/rebs1dmxnU
— Seán Defoe (@SeanDefoe) June 26, 2019
Speaking at the National Economic Dialogue this morning, Leo Varadkar acknowledged the split and said he will have to step in
“I know John Deasy quite well,” he said. “I appointed him as a representative in the United States – he has done a very good job in that regard.”
“He hasn’t, to date, come to me with evidence of bullying in Waterford but if he is now making that allegation, well then that has to be taken seriously and it has to be investigated.
“As I say there is a long-standing split in the local organisation there.
“It has come to a head and we need to bring it to a close.
“I intend to do that as party leader over the next couple of months.”
Leo Varadkar has often been critical of bullying allegations within Sinn Féin but now faces similar claims within his own party.
He will also be aiming to defuse a very public row between two candidates who may be vying for just one Fine Gael seat at the next election.
Reporting from Sean Defoe