THE famous St Luke's office used by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is to be handed back to Fianna Fail.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin had signalled that regaining control of the building in Drumcondra in Dublin would be the main subject of tonight's meeting of the Fianna Fail national executive.
But in a dramatic move, the members of the so-called "Drumcondra Mafia" who control the building released a statement last night signalling they will not resist the takeover.
"The Trustees have been in contact with the Fianna Fail General Secretary with a view to commencing such discussions to ensure that ownership of St Luke's will pass to the Fianna Fail Party nationally," they said in a statement.
St Luke's is controlled by some of Mr Ahern's closest allies -- former Dublin Port chairman Joe Burke, Tim Collins and Des Richardson.
The building was bought in January 1988 for IR£56000 and turned into a constituency office, with an apartment overhead where Mr Ahern occasionally lived.
It has been at the centre of his political career.
The trustees said last night Mr Ahern had contacted them before he resigned from the party in the wake of the Mahon Tribunal Report.
"He urged the Trustees to co-operate with Fianna Fail headquarters and to enter into constructive and positive discussions with them to bring about a situation where the ownership of the property would be vested in the party nationally," they said.
The trustees also said that the Fianna Fail officers they had spoken to in Dublin Central members also believed that the future use of St Luke's should be solely for the benefit of the Fianna Fail Party.
"Statements suggesting that the Trustees intend to hold onto St Luke's for themselves or that the Trustees are opposed to Fianna Fail headquarters having control of St Luke's are inaccurate and totally without foundation," they said.
The meeting of the Fianna Fail national executive had been expected to be dominated by the expulsion motions against Mr Ahern, former EU Commissioner Padraig Flynn and other councillors criticised in the Mahon Tribunal report.
But these motions have now been dropped after all of them submitted their resignations in writing to the party during the week.
A Fianna Fail spokeswoman said earlier yesterday that the focus of the meeting would be on taking control of Fianna Fail's Dublin Central organisation and its assets, including St Luke's. But that has now also fallen through -- leaving the meeting in danger of becoming something of a damp squib.