The government cannot rely on a key Independent support to see off a confidence motion against the Housing Minister tomorrow ahead of the Dáil showdown.
The Irish Examiner has learnt that one of the three key Independent TDs who the government hopes will prevent the passing of the motion has yet to make up his mind.
Rsocommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten confirmed that he has yet to make a decision on whether to vote with the Fine Gael-led government against the motion or to stand with the Opposition in its efforts to topple the coalition.
The former Fine Gael TD and government minister could also abstain, but is unlikely to indicate before the confidence motion reaches the floor of the parliament chamber tomorrow night at 8pm.
Mr Naughten, who regularly votes to support government Dáil business, told the Irish Examiner: "I've no decision made on what way I'll vote on the confidence motion. I'm talking with supporters and local councillors in advance of the vote and I'll be guided by them."
His indecision will worry government ministers and whips as they scramble today and tomorrow to ensure enough of the Dáil's 158 TDs oppose the Social Democrats motion against Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy.
With 45 Fianna Fáil TDs abstaining under the Confidence and Supply Agreement, this means the government will need up to 57 votes to beat the motion.
Fine Gael has 48 TDs while it also has the support of another six independent and Independent Alliance TDs. This means it needs at least three TDs to beat the motion, potentially even if the Ceann Comhairle's deciding vote is stripped out of the numbers.
This is if all the Opposition TDs turn up and actually vote against the Housing Minister.
The three key TDs are Independents Michael Lowry, Noel Grealish and Mr Naughten.
Rural Independents this afternoon told the Irish Examiner they would likely vote against the minister.
Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae said the minister had ignored the rural TDs' own previous proposals to give property owners tax reliefs for doing up homes.
IN SUPPORT (53)
ABSTAIN/ABSENT/PAIRED/NO (CASTING) VOTE (49)