Is there light at the end of the electoral tunnel? Can we see a pathway to a government leading the 33rd Dáil? 

Certainly comments yesterday evening by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin sent political circles into a spin.

During the election campaign, Mr Martin had been clear that Fianna Fáil would not go into coalition with Sinn Féin.

Yet when asked to respond to Sinn Féin's big vote, he said: "I'm a democrat. I listen to the people. I respect the decision of the people."

Responding to the decision of the people is a big challenge for Mr Martin. He would have hoped that Fianna Fáil would have secured close to 60 seats, but will have to be satisfied with a return somewhere in the low 40s, if even that.

The manner in which Mr Martin responded to the Sinn Féin question was in stark difference to that of Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar.

Speaking on RTÉ, Mr Varadkar said that when it came to coalition talks "my position hasn't changed".

He was "unequivocal" that Fine Gael wouldn't work with Sinn Féin due to "principal and policy". He added: "Politicians have to believe what they say and mean what they say."

Mr Martin's answer was far more nuanced.

He restated some of his campaign position by "laying down a marker" that "policies and principles don't change overnight".

However, Mr Martin developed his point, stating that now is "not the day for ruling-in or ruling-out", adding that today was what he termed the "people's day".

The Fianna Fáil leader argued that things needed to settle and all parties needed to know the final outcome of the election.

More interestingly, Mr Martin went on to say that the priority for the next government was "a policy and substantive programme which ensures any government can last".

Sinn Féin isn't waiting around for either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

Reflecting her party's new strength, the leader Mary Lou McDonald was in contact with the leaders from the Greens and the Social Democrats about forming a government without either of the two traditional "big parties".

But such a left-wing led government seems very difficult, if not impossible, to form.

Therefore the next coalition would require the involvement at least two of the big parties. With Fine Gael out of the picture, that leaves Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.

It has to be stated that Mr Martin did not commit himself to negotiating with Sinn Féin, let alone concluding a coalition deal. He merely opened the door to the possibility of talks taking place.

But that pivot is highly significant.

However, getting such a deal through a Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis would be complicated.

That was underlined by an interview with Jim O'Callaghan, who told RTÉ: "I don't think we shouldn't resile from our commitments [about Sinn Féin]."