The Taoiseach has indicated that he is open to the possibility that former taoiseach Bertie Ahern be readmitted to the Fianna Fáil party.

When asked about reports that Fianna Fáil's parliamentary party meeting heard calls for Mr Ahern to be allowed return, Micheál Martin said "in the fullness of time, certainly we would give that consideration".

Speaking at the opening of a Penneys store in Tallaght, Mr Martin said that "no one can take from him the contribution he made to peace in Ireland and to the peace process".

When asked about his proposal that Mr Ahern be expelled from the party in 2012, Mr Martin said that "there was a context there and there was an issue there".

"I'm saying as far as I'm concerned it's ten years on," he said.

"I am conscious of the contribution he has made to peace in the country... and that's (Mr Ahern's return to the party is) something in the fullness of time we can look at."

Mr Martin said that he had "been engaging with" Mr Ahern for over a year on issues around the Northern Ireland Protocol.

"He's heavily involved in Northern Ireland issues; he maintains contacts with different groups and, from my perspective, that level of consultation will continue because I think he has a valuable insight into all of that," Mr Martin said.

Fianna Fáil backbench TD John Lahart said that "the discussion" at the weekly parliamentary party meeting on Mr Ahern's possible return to the party "was specifically in the context of the value (and) experience that he brings" ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next year.

"We don't live in a cancel culture," Mr Lahart said.

Speaking at the opening of a Pennys store in Tallaght in Dublin, attended by the Taoiseach, Mr Lahart said that he believed few of the journalists present could say they had not sought out Mr Ahern for a comment on Northern Ireland.

"There's no reason Fianna Fail should be any different," Mr Lahart said, adding that "Fianna Fail was his (Mr Ahern's) home."