Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny has raised the spectre of a second General Election, having told the Cabinet this morning that it was the very likely last time they would meet, write Daniel McConnell and Juno McEnroe.
According to sources, Mr Kenny thanked ministers for their work, and made special mention of those ministers who had lost their seat.
The embattled Taoiseach reportedly said that the toll of the recent politcal impasse has been “very challenging” but added ministers will be remembered for their dedication to the State.
But it was Mr Kenny's expressions of thanks led some of those present to believe that it was the last time they would gather as a Cabinet.
Mr Kenny said “history will be kind” to them in their work in saving the country in 2011 and bringing it back from the economic cliff.
Mr Kenny's comments are seen as significant given the ongoing impasse between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil over forming a minority Government.
Senior Fine Gael sources cautioned about drawing too much significance from what Mr Kenny said at the Cabinet table.
Ahead of the talks this afternoon, Finance Minister Noonan acknowledged that the two parties remained at odds on the issue of suspending water charges.
He spoke as Fianna Fáil negotiator Barry Cowen said if Fine Gael did not accept his party's will in the current talks it might accept the will of the Dáil.
An attempt to hold a debate on Irish Water today failed in the Dáil.
Richard Boyd Barrett took to his feet in the chamber accusing Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil of engaging in choreography which he claimed "smacked of cynical collusion".
Micheál Martin immediately took to his feet to reject Mr Barrett's claim, insisting Fianna Fáil is committed to facilitating the formation of a Government.
Arriving for this evening's talks, Fianna Fáil negotiator Michael McGrath said his party's view was that the Dáil should be the final arbiter in relation to Irish Water.
He said Fianna Fáil is very anxious that the Dáil have the opportunity to debate the issues of Irish Water as quickly as possible - as early as tomorrow - and would vote accordingly in the order of business if that was necessary to accommodate such a debate.
Mr Cowen earlier said talks with Fine Gael are at an impasse and that they would "give one last try" to reach a solution today.
He said the discussions were "coming near end game" but that there were three or four issues, including water, that were still outstanding.