IT is almost certain that Brian Cowen will not be a candidate in the upcoming general election -- but he will not be announcing his decision until a new leader of Fianna Fail is elected.
He was talking about not standing again as a TD last weekend with friends who were advising him to stand down as Taoiseach, according to reliable sources.
And even before he makes his decision public, there has been speculation about what he will do after he leaves public life at the age of 51.
But whatever future career Mr Cowen chooses, nothing will be decided while he goes through the post-politics "decontamination" process.
And de-coupling himself from controversy and public life could take as long as two years, according to others who have departed from high political office.
Whatever he does, friends say he is unlikely to return to the very successful solicitor's practice he set up with partner Tom O'Donovan in Tullamore.
Mr Cowen only practised as a solicitor for two years with Mr O'Donovan before he left and became a TD 27 years ago and other lawyers say it is not realistic for him to return.
A number of aggressive British firms of solicitors are now setting up in Ireland and may seek to head-hunt. A name like 'Brian Cowen' on their letterhead and access to a former Taoiseach's address book would be an asset to an ambitious legal firm looking for blue chip clients.
He has also worked closely with Arthur Cox, the largest law firm in the country with annual fee income of €105m, although a consultancy there would be unlikely for at least a couple of years.
Former Fianna Fail Finance Ministers Charlie McCreevy and Ray MacSharry were offered lucrative directorships after leaving office -- but in the current recession that is less likely for Mr Cowen.
His impatience with the media rules out a future in public relations and lobbying where many former politicians top up their pensions.
Previous Taoisigh -- who have an annual pension of some €150,000 -- have had success in different areas when they left politics.
Albert Reynolds returned to business doing international deals and John Bruton was the EU Ambassador to the US and now runs the IFSC in Dublin.
Dr Garret FitzGerald is a newspaper columnist and media pundit.
Bertie Ahern is not running for the Dail again but he collects fees of up to €40,000 for delivering lectures on the peace process and he writes a sports column for a British tabloid newspaper.
Last night friends were convinced that Mr Cowen would not run again for public office and said that it was almost inevitable when he stood down as leader of Fianna Fail.
His election team in Laois-Offaly knew he would not be running on Sunday morning because he did not immediately say he would run in reply to journalists' questions.
"We knew straight away," said a local Fianna Fail member. "Now he's using the time before he makes an announcement to make sure the right candidate to replace him is selected."