Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has buckled under the pressure of the SF/IRA axis as she ended days of silence to endorse Gerry Adams's claim that tax cheat Thomas 'Slab' Murphy is a "good republican".
Ms McDonald last night stood firmly behind her party leader, whose decision to defend former IRA godfather Murphy has plunged the party into a full-blown crisis.
Sinn Féin is now beyond toxic in the eyes of all of the mainstream political parties after Mr Adams once again cast a slur on the reputation of the country's justice system.
But during a day of high drama that has left the party reeling:
An under-pressure Mr Adams came out publicly on a number of occasions yesterday in a desperate bid to put an end to the controversy he created.
However, the Louth TD floundered, bizarrely telling his own local radio station, LMFM, that he is under no obligation to "swallow" what he described as the "baggage" of the State.
But in an extraordinary move, Mr Adams then openly questioned the decision by DPP Claire Loftus to refer the Murphy case to the Special Criminal Court, insisting that every citizen should be tried in front of a jury.
Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter said Mr Adams's slur on the country's legal system will prove "truly nauseating" for the families of the Disappeared.
Meanwhile, Mr Adams's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald finally broke her silence over the 'Slab' Murphy controversy last night, telling the Irish Independent that she too believes Murphy is a "good republican".
"Everyone has a duty to pay their taxes in full. Full stop. That includes good republicans like Mr Thomas Murphy," she said.
But her own political record was dragged firmly into the spotlight after two former justice ministers accused the Sinn Féin TD of sullying their good names.
PD founder Dessie O'Malley and ex-minister Gerry Collins spoke of their anger over her decision to name them in the Dáil as wrongly having held offshore accounts in order to evade paying tax in this jurisdiction.
Last year's claims, which arose from the so-called Ansbacher dossier, have never been proven to be correct.
However, Ms McDonald was found to be in breach of Dáil rules after naming both former politicians, as well as many others, under the protection of Dáil privilege.
"I deeply resent the efforts by Sinn Fein to damage my character and my integrity," Mr Collins said, adding that he has never received an apology from Ms McDonald.
And last night, Mr O'Malley went a step further, telling the Irish Independent that Mr Adam's decision to defend Murphy is because the tax cheat is believed to have been a member of the Army Council. As justice minister during the Seventies, Mr O'Malley would have had clear intelligence about the activities of senior Provos.
"It's typical hypocrisy of Sinn Féin," he said, adding that Ms McDonald has never withdrawn her allegations against him.
"The reason why the party is seeking to defend 'Slab' Murphy's character is because he is, or was, a member of the IRA Army Council. He had a very prominent part in directing Sinn Féin policy."
In her statement, the Dublin Central TD stood by her decision to name the former ministers in the Dáil.
"The issues raised by authorised officers in the Ansbacher dossier are most serious and should be investigated in full. That has been my call for over 12 months now. It is quite outrageous that the authorised officers have not been permitted to conclude their investigation, as they requested of minister Richard Bruton," said MsMcDonald.
She added that she has no intention of withdrawing her decision to name the ministers, as well as Ray MacSharry, Máire Geoghegan Quinn and Richie Ryan, among others.
Meanwhile, the North's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness insisted Murphy was key to something 'amazing' in Northern Ireland and said the reaction to his conviction for tax evasion is "mind blogging".
However, the North's outgoing First Minister, Peter Robinson said it would be "sheer madness" if Murphy had been tried in front of a jury, rather than the Special Criminal Court.
"I will resist any temptation to make reference to Al Capone and the style of his conviction. It is essential to say nobody is above the law and everyone is answerable to the courts," Mr Robinson told reporters at an event in Farmleigh.
Mr Robinson, who will step down as DUP leader in the New Year, continued: "If there is a real danger to members of the jury in a case it is essential that we ensure justice is done. We have full confidence in members of the benches both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. I don't think there would be any different result in there being a jury. It would have been more susceptible to pressures."
Sinn Féin's determination to build a political foundation on victimhood is already getting old. Its mission to present its newest candidate for martyrdom, in the form of Thomas 'Slab' Murphy, would be laughable were it not for the fact that it could be seen as a ploy to distract from a more cynical intent.