The family of former Taoiseach Brian Cowen has come out in defence of Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin in the ongoing row with Mary Hanafin.
The party was left shell-shocked after Mr Cowen's wife Mary launched an extraordinary attack on Ms Hanafin, who consistently called for Fianna Fail to consider coalition with Fine Gael.
In a series of Facebook posts, Ms Cowen warned Mr Martin to "watch his back", seemingly pointing to a threat to his leadership.
Ms Cowen, who still remains active in the party, was referring to remarks made by Ms Hanafin in an article in the Herald and the Irish Independent on Tuesday.
The Dun Laoghaire councillor told this newspaper that she was approached by grassroots members at the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis on Saturday who urged her to "influence" party policy.
But in a series of posts on a private Fianna Fail discussion forum, Ms Cowen took major issue with Ms Hanafin's claims.
"Have just read the Irish Independent and I see an article about Mary Hanifin (sic) stating that Fianna Fail members have called on her to influence party policy."
The Facebook post continues, claiming that Ms Hanafin is "not elected yet and she is running the party".
It adds: "Michael (sic) Martin better watch his back as there wouldn't be to (sic) much loyalty there!"
Ms Cowen further criticised Ms Hanafin in comments attached to the post.
"She seems to be getting plenty of air and press time," she said.
In response to a comment from a member that Ms Hanafin was "never a team player", Ms Cowen replied: "That's for sure".
The Facebook page in question has almost 1,400 members - many of whom are party activists, councillors, senators and TDs. The posts by Ms Cowen were later deleted after she learned that the remarks had been picked up by the media.
Efforts to contact Ms Cowen directly have been unsuccessful.
However, the authenticity of her Facebook posts have been verified.
Ms Hanafin declined to comment when contacted last night.
Party figures yesterday were left stunned by the row, pointing out that Ms Cowen is not known to adopt an outspoken view within the party.
But there was also surprise expressed in relation to the decision by the Cowen family to row in behind Mr Martin.
The same sources said they believe the attack on Ms Hanafin stems from her decision to vote against Mr Cowen during a vote of confidence in his leadership in 2011.
It's understood that Ms Cowen and Ms Hanafin have not spoken since the event.
Ms Hanafin, who is contesting the Dun Laoghaire constituency alongside her council colleague Cormac Devlin, has infuriated many front-bench TDs in recent months following her comments about the party.
However, several deputies privately agree wholeheartedly with her claims that the party should not rule out Fine Gael as a potential coalition partner.