Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan has said he would be “honoured” to lead the party and will give it “full consideration” when a vacancy arises.
Mr O’Callaghan has also said he would have given former minister for agriculture Barry Cowen more time to address the recent drink driving controversy that saw Taoiseach Micheál Martin remove him from the Cabinet.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Mr O’Callaghan said he believed it “was a difficult situation for Micheál and for Barry Cowen”.
“I can understand it from Barry’s point of view. He would have had to reveal what was in a confidential document in order for him to do what people say he should have done. It was a tough call, but I would have given him more time.”
The Dublin Bay South TD also said that while there is no vacancy as of yet, he would in future consider putting himself forward to lead the party.
Mr O’Callaghan turned down a junior position in the Department of Justice after Mr Martin elected not to appoint him to a senior role at Cabinet. Despite this, he said he has a “good relationship with Micheál.”
“Obviously people look back to the fact that in 2016, when I was elected, I was part of the team that entered into (government formation) negotiations with Fine Gael. Just because I did that, doesn’t mean I had an automatic entitlement to be appointed to the subsequent negotiation team,” he said.
He added that it would be “inaccurate to say Micheál and myself don’t have a good relationship”.