FIANNA FAIL leader Micheal Martin has "warmly welcomed" former Labour Party chairman Colm Keaveney into the party, describing him as a "serious politician".
Speaking at a press conference to announce his entry into Fianna Fáil on the plinth at Leinster House, Mr Keaveney said he was delighted to join a "changed party, which had learned from the mistakes of the past".
Mr Martin said Mr Keaveney will "add value" to the party, which agreed unanimously to accept his application.
Mr Martin said: "The Fianna Fail Parliamentary party has accepted unanimously the application of Colm Keaveney to join the party. He has been warmly welcomed. He will add value to the party. He is a serious politician."
Mr Martin confirmed that Mr Keaveney will be given responsibility for the "area of special needs, all aspects of special needs, including mental health."
Mr Keaveney responded by saying it was a great honour for him to join Fianna Fáil.
"I have had my first FF parliamentary meeting and I am encouraged by the determination and enthusiasm in terms of policy, because it is policy that has attracted me to Fianna Fáil," he said.
Mr Keaveney was pressed by reporters about severely criticisms he made about Fianna Fáil, when he was in Labour Fianna Fáil, but said the renewal under Micheal Martin means those concerns are no longer valid.
"Fianna Fáil is a party that has learned from the mistakes of the past. I am delighted to have seen a renewal in Fianna Fáil, particularly at grassroots level. It encourages me that my value system will be welcome in Fianna Fáil," he said.
Mr Keaveney also said he found the experience outside the embrace of a major party "lonely".
He added: "I was lonely in independence, I don't believe it works in politics and I haver gravitated towards Fianna Fáil because I believe they are the party of fairness in this parliament. It is an honour to be unanimously accepted by the party."
Reacting to Mr Keaveney's comments, Mr Martin said he personally learned from the mistakes of the past and said he supports strongly any process of political reform.