LUCINDA Creighton had much of her office packed up last night, but has still to vote against the abortion legislation.
The Herald understands that the European Affairs Minister made up her mind definitively several days ago that she was going to walk over the issue.
The move will cost the TD her ministry and €37,000 salary top-up, as well as her driver and special ministerial advisor.
Ms Creighton delivered one of the most impassioned speeches of her career last night as she lashed the Government for adopting "flawed legislation".
"The consequences of the legislation are not reversible. They will change the culture in this country and they will change the way in which we deal with vulnerable women.
"Why are we insisting that abortion, which has no medical grounding, is going to be enshrined in our statute book as the only treatment for women who find themselves in that desperate place?" However, she supported the Government in the first two votes in the early hours of this morning.
Speaking to the Herald today, Fine Gael Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the Government "completely disagrees" with Ms Creighton's analysis of the Supreme Court judgement that led to legislation.
Fine Gael has already lost Peter Matthews, Billy Timmons, Terence Flanagan and Brian Walsh, and Ms Creighton is expected to defect later today.
Minister Fitzgerald said: "The four people who are gone are a loss to the party, and so would Lucinda be if she votes against the legislation."
It is almost certain that Ms Creighton will finally show her hand when a vote is called on the clause relating to abortion in cases where the woman has suicidal tendencies.
She is now likely to be moved to an office close to the Department of Agriculture – shared by other defected Government TDs.
Sources close to her told the Herald that she had conceded in recent days that her plea for substantial amendments would fall on deaf ears.
"This wasn't easy. She has everything to lose and nothing to gain from this," said a source.
Any hope that Ms Creighton would be joined by further rebels were dashed last night when Michelle Mulherin and John O'Mahony pledged their support for the bill.