The ongoing controversy over the garda whistleblower scandal could be set to bring down the Government.
Fianna Fáil lodged a motion of no confidence in Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald this morning.
The motion will be up for debate in the Dáil next Tuesday.
A Fianna Fáil vote of no confidence would break the confidence and supply arrangement that is propping up the minority-led Fine Gael Government - triggering a general election.
Should the Tánaiste resign or be removed from her position in the meantime, the crisis could be avoided.
However, last night the Fine Gael parliamentary party voted unanimously to support her – and it is understood she has no intention of resigning.
The Taoiseach told an emergency meeting of the Fine Gael TDs and senators that he did not want a fresh election, but said he would not allow the Tánaiste to be "thrown under the bus."
Opposition parties have accused Minister Fitzgerald failing to act after she received an email alluding to a smear campaign against the Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe in 2015.
Minister Fitzgerald has always insisted she had no knowledge of any alleged strategy until 2016 when it entered the public domain. She has said does not remember the email, adding that it would have been “inappropriate and improper” for her to have intervened in any case.
The timing of the potential election is causing concern across the political spectrum with Brexit talks at a crucial stage ahead of the next meeting of the European Council in early December.
This morning, Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins admitted the timing could be better:
“The public do not want an election,” he said. “The country does not need an election.”
“But we are careering towards that unless the Tánaiste does the proper thing here which is to resign.
“If an election is called; after about a day or two the public will quickly move on from the Maurice McCabe and the Frances Fitzgerald saga.”