Labour facing the worst of times as support plummetsSunday 28 February 2016 10.27
One adage has been proven today - when the tide is out for a party, it is out and nothing can pull it back, except time, writes Conor McMorrow of RTÉ's political staff.
Labour can take solace from Fianna Fáil's performance. That party appeared to be dead and buried in 2011. Today it was resurrected.
Shortly after the boxes opened in count centres across the country, the stark reality of the Labour Party's performance started to unfold.
Minister for Communications Alex White was the first major casualty of the day when he lost his seat in Dublin Rathdown.
Votes are still being counted but analyst Michael Gallagher predicted on RTÉ radio that two more of the party's five Cabinet ministers could lose their seats.
But Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan scraped her seat in Limerick City on the sixth count.
Deputy leader and Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly in Tipperary faces an uphill struggle to keep his seat. The count will resume later this morning.
Given Labour's poor showing nationally, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin put in a phenomenal performance to top the poll in Wexford. He was eventually re-elected in the ninth count.
Equally, party leader Joan Burton has done remarkably well to save her seat and prevent Sinn Féin's Paul Donnelly from taking a widely expected seat in Dublin West.
A measure of how bad it has been for the Labour Party is that so-called "safe seats" in Kildare North and Longford-Westmeath appear to be in jeopardy – Emmet Stagg and Willie Penrose's seats are in grave danger.
In Galway West, Derek Nolan has lost his seat. This signals that the old Labour base built up by Michael D Higgins is gone.
Mr McCarthy said his party must regroup and reorganise and plot a strategy for their survival.
He said the argument could have been made for them to stay out of government.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, Mr McCarthy said the only viable option on the table for government is a FG-FF coalition but that it won't last longer than the first budget.
He said it is likely there will be another election in November.
Minister of State Ged Nash is in a battle with outgoing Fine Gael TD Peter Fitzpatrick in Louth.
Elsewhere in the capital, Joanna Tuffy, Eric Byrne and Joe Costello have been among the casualties.
Willie Penrose said: "I am a betting man but I would not be putting too much of a wager on me not losing my seat."
He added, that "at this point in time we must reflect and look at rebuilding the party into the future".
He pointed out that on a number of occasions the party has acted in the national interest and had done what was best for the country.
Founded in Clonmel in 1912, the Labour party is the oldest the State. Today is among the worst of times. It may be the time to do what is right for the Labour party – take stock and rebuild.