Black day for the Greens left facing destruction
FOR those trying to digest the Sunday roast it was one of the most unpalatable images -- the mass suicide of the Green Party.
While there was a general sigh of relief that Messrs Gormley, Ryan, Cuffe, Gogarty, Sargent and Boyle have finally pulled the plug, they are now a party in ruin.
The Green Party now faces the prospect of obliteration in the election, with none of its TDs thought to be secure.
In fact it is quite possible that the Greens may not have a single representative in the Dail after the public has its say.
Even Trevor Sargent, their safest candidate, is thought to be heading for the scrap of his life in Dublin North to keep a hold of his seat.
The Greens decision to go into Government with Fianna Fail in 2007 is now being viewed as a catastrophe for party. They are in danger of going the way of the PDs, whose popularity had plummeted after over a decade in power with FF.
Tensions within the Greens have been mounting for months, with members looking on aghast at their TDs' refusal to pull the plug on the Government.
They stuttered from one crisis to another but insisted on remaining in power to implement their policies.
Communications Minister Eamon Ryan finally reached breaking point over the weekend as he called Fine Gael to try to choreograph an escape route.
But it has come too late for the party's six TDs, most of whom are tipped to lose their seats.
Mr Ryan was looking at Brian Cowen's press conference live on television in which the Taoiseach resigned as FF leader and felt he had to do something. The relationship between the two Coalition partners had been on a downward spiral since last autumn. Mr Ryan rang Cork South Central TD Simon Coveney to see what the possibility was of Fine Gael backing the Finance Bill if it was passed quickly.
When Fine Gael agreed to withdraw a no confidence motion in return for a speedy passage, the way was open for the Greens to pull out of Government.
However, the damage to the party has already been done as they stuttered from one crisis to the next. The resignation of John Gormley from his environment ministry, along with Mr Ryan, has left just seven Fianna Fail members in Cabinet to complete the Government's work.
If opinion polls are to be believed, the Greens will be decimated in the election. Surveys have shown support for the party languishing at just 2pc.