Unlike some in Fine Gael, Dungarvan postmaster Joe O'Riordan, who stood in the local elections as an Independent but one with ties to Fianna Fáil, has sympathy for Dungarvan-based John Deasy.
Up to 60 members of Fine Gael's Waterford branch attended a local elections postmortem in a hotel on Monday, where they overwhelmingly backed a motion of no confidence in the Fine Gael TD. Just a handful abstained.
Predicting that Deasy will hold a seat if he decides to run again for Fine Gael in the next Dáil election, O’Riordan says: “There is a big Deasy vote there [but] that’s probably a little bit perplexed at the moment.”
He believes Deasy should do more to publicise his US immigration envoy role. “People don’t actually know what he’s doing in America. He’s probably scored a bit of an own goal himself in that he should be highlighting his work better.”
However, some of Deasy's own are less sympathetic. "He hasn't been visible, and he hasn't been active on the issues that are important to people. It has been a talking point for quite some time," says Fine Gael councillor Damien Geoghegan.
Geoghegan, who comfortably topped the poll last month in Dungarvan, told Damien Tiernan on WLR radio on Tuesday morning that Deasy "hasn't been doing his job a as constituency TD for Waterford for quite some time".
Some in Dungarvan see criticism of Deasy as "jockeying" and an attempt to force him out to make way for a bid by former junior minister Paudie Coffey to return to the Dáil in the next election even if, in many case, they believe he deserves criticism.
On Dungarvan’s streets one man, who did not wish to be identified said he has usually voted for Fianna Fáil, but regularly gave Deasy and Fine Gael second preferences “but never again”.
“He’s non-existent, that’s the only way I can put it,” he said.
Other members of the public around Dungarvan’s Grattan Square agree. “He hasn’t been active at all,” said one woman. “I’m disappointed in John Deasy. I think he’s taken a back seat.”
Deasy entered the Dáil in 2002, taking over from his father, former minister for agriculture Austin Deasy, who served in the Dáil for 25 years.
“You could approach Austin. John is a different breed. He’s not around. I’m just disappointed with him,” said another.
There are still supporters of Deasy in Dungarvan. One woman described the no confidence motion as “harsh”, while another said he had been helpful when making representations for her.
Many from other parties privately acknowledge that his office in the town is kept busy, and Deasy himself is regularly working in the background on matters, sometimes more effectively than he advertises.
Most vocal critic
Several of Fine Gael’s local councillors publicly distanced themselves from Deasy ahead of last month’s local elections, with some saying that they had not spoken to the TD for three years or more barring his father’s funeral in 2017.
His most vocal critic is former leader of the Seanad Maurice Cummins, who said Deasy's "disengagement" had left the party's councillors "fighting with their hands tied" because of a lack of support from him. "It is time for party headquarters to get off the pot."
Cummins, whose son John has put himself forward as a Dáil candidate based in Waterford city, said that if Fine Gael decided to support Deasy for the Dáil he "certainly won't work for him".
Other parties look on amused but in search of advantage. Asked to comment, Waterford Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane told his local radio programme that he felt he was "in the middle of a relationship break-up".