FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin has indicated that he would welcome a return to politics by Mary Hanafin.
Mr Martin was speaking after the former minister ruled herself out of the contest for the Fianna Fail European Parliment election nomination in Dublin.
After months of consideration, Ms Hanafin said that she is "not persuaded" by a seat in the European Parliament at this particular time.
However, she insisted that she will assess her level of support in her Dun Laoghaire constituency before deciding whether to return in the future.
"I believe that in the next election in Dun Laoghaire, because it is always a barometer for the rest of country, you're not going to see the same strength attached to some candidates as you had, for example the last time," she told Newstalk.
"We'll do some polls to see what people are actually thinking and what people want," she added.
Mr Martin said: "Mary Hanafin has clearly indicated that she doesn't wish to go forward for the European (elections) but she hasn't ruled herself out of politics at all and may return to a later date. That's for the individual themselves, it's as basic and as simple as that, as it always has been," he said.
"Anybody's entitled to go forward, anybody's entitled to put their name for convention, no one's prohibited in putting their name forward and it's up to each individual to make his or her choice in terms of what they feel is best for them."
The party has been divided about the prospect of a return to politics by former ministers such as Ms 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.