Controversial former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will not be considered for any "distinguished service medal" and has zero chance of returning to the Fianna Fáil fold, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Political Correspondent
Party leader Micheal Martin ruled out both possibilities as he described suggestions today Mr Ahern should be considered for the grassroots medal as "mischievous" and something that will not be considered.
In a message to rank and file Fianna Fáil members in the lead up to this weekend's ard fhéis at the RDS in Dublin, party headquarters asked for names of individuals at local level who are deserving of a medal to honour their service.
In response, Mr Ahern's former O'Donovan Ross cumann said the controversial ex-taoiseach - who is no longer a member of the party - should be considered.
Party sources said the suggestion will not be considered in any way as Mr Ahern is not a member of the party, and will not be discussed formally at the ard fhéis as it is not a motion.
And, while the return of Mr Ahern gained attention yesterday, Mr Martin repeated the stance last night, saying the former taoiseach will not return to the party and is not eligible for a medal in his honour.
"I think that was a rather mischevious letter coming in yesterday [from the cumann]. Those awards are for grassroots volunteers... who down through the years have given loyally to the party through their service," Mr Martin said.
When it was pointed out by a journalist that Mr Ahern has "knocked on every door, he's been up every tree", Mr Martin said "I think that was someone else" before adding:
"Those of us including Bertie who had the honour of serving in high office, that's our reward, it's a great privilege to serve in office and that should be reward enough.
"My position [ruling out any return of Mr Ahern to Fianna Fáil] hasn't changed on that."