EAMON Gilmore was spotted bolting out of the Dail Chamber on the trail of Roisin Shortall after the defeat of the motion of no confidence in Dr James Reilly on Wednesday night.
Lingering TDs expected to witness a showdown, but Ms Shortall went down the stairs into the most public part of Leinster House.
Mr Gilmore did not follow, but observers said he did appear annoyed after the junior health minister’s contribution to the debate.
Ms Shortall seemed to go out of her way to show she wasn’t going to directly express confidence, support or faith in her senior minister.
Not content with body language alone, she verbally displayed her ambivalence towards Dr Reilly.
Her four-minute speech on a motion of no confidence in him didn’t mention the central protagonist at all.
Indeed, her speech could arguably have been ruled out of order as contributions are supposed to be on the topic at hand, yet she chose to ignore the question at hand.
Instead, the junior health minister proceeded to cast a shadow over the pace of reform and reiterate the sour relationship among ministers in the department.
After their motion flopped with barely a whimper, Ms Shortall gave Fianna Fail an opportunity to salvage some credit by poking questions at Mr Gilmore about the level of coordination in the department.
Fianna Fail’s Dara Calleary said there was a “completely fractured working relationship” between ministers Reilly and Shortall.
Mr Gilmore batted it away and didn’t add any fuel to the fire.
But it’s quite clear Ms Shortall’s colleagues in the Labour Party have run out of patience with her behaviour.
The level of sympathy towards her position has dissipated substantially.
She seemed to cross a line when she gave the opposition yet more ammunition to keep the issue going.
The infighting in Hawkins House is well documented, but does she have to make the hostility so obvious?
Mr Gilmore’s own relationship with his junior minister is fractious since he left her out of the Cabinet line-up last year, opting instead for the experienced heads in the party.
Ms Shortall doesn’t get on with Dr Reilly but her constant protests are now proving to be counterproductive.