MARY HANAFIN has ruled herself out of next summer's European elections, Independent.ie has learned.
The former minister has put an end to months of speculation that she was preparing to contest the Dublin constituency for Fianna Fail.
However, Ms Hanafin last night gave her strongest indication yet that she intends to make a return to politics in the future.
She told Independent.ie that she was not "persuaded" by a run for Europe but insisted she remains interested in domestic politics.
"I was privileged to represent the people of Dun Laoghaire for nearly 14 years and I remain involved there. I am not persuaded that Europe is where I want to be," she said.
"There are many challenges facing people in this country and in my political activity I want to be where I can best use my experience to address them," she added.
There has been widespread speculation in recent weeks that Ms Hanafin was preparing to use the European Elections as a means to make her political comeback.
She told a number of party figures last year that she was "considering her options" and has, up until now, consistently refused to rule herself out as a potential candidate.
The party has been divided about the prospect of a return to politics by former ministers such as Hanafin. She was among the most high-profile Fianna Fail TDs to lose their seats during the party's collapse at the 2011 General Election. She lost out at the 11th count to People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett in their Dun Laoghaire constituency.
"People went out of their way to tell me that it wasn't personal, because of the work that I had done," Ms Hanafin said after losing her Dail seat.
"It's very much a hit against Fianna Fail, a hit against the Government. When the tide is that strong against you, I couldn't swim against it."
Despite losing her seat, Ms Hanafin still has support within the party and may now look to the next general election for a potential return.
Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent