Taoiseach Enda Kenny has refused to rule out future government resignations, with the coalition deep in crisis over the loss of a respected junior minister.
With the fallout from Roisin Shortall's shock departure still raw, Mr Kenny said that the two ruling parties are fully aware of the challenges of power.
"One can never speak of the future," the Taoiseach said when asked if any more ministers or TDs are likely to jump ship.
"But let me say this. Both parties in Government, the Fine Gael party and the Labour party, recognise the difficulties and the challenges that lie ahead and they expect all ministers to play their part in implementing the Programme for Government."
Despite Ms Shortall's principled resignation from the Department of Health, the Taoiseach leapt to the defence of under-fire Health Minister Dr James Reilly. He said: "Minister Reilly has got the most difficult job in government as a frontline minister, in terms of the changes that he has to make and that he is required to make."
The Labour resignation, the second junior minister to quit the Government, followed a series of policy differences and rifts with Dr Reilly. The total breakdown in relations occurred when the minister added two locations within his north Dublin constituency to a priority list for new primary care centres without Ms Shortall's knowledge. She also insisted there was opposition in government to her plan to ban alcohol firms from sport sponsorship.
Mr Kenny defended Dr Reilly as he attended the final day of the National Ploughing Championships in New Ross, Co Wexford. While he is saddened by Ms Shortall's resignation, he said tough decisions have to be made for next year's Budget if the Government is to stick to its cost-saving plans to restore the economy.
Ms Shortall is the fourth Labour TD to resign the party whip since the coalition was formed 18 months ago. She joins former junior minister Willie Penrose, who resigned over the closure of army barracks in Mullingar, and TDs Tommy Broughan and Patrick Nulty on the Labour sidelines.
In a short statement, Mr Reilly paid tribute to Ms Shortall "whose commitment to the betterment of the health services was clear", and welcomed Labour TD Alex White as her replacement.
It said: "Minister Reilly thanked Ms Shortall for the considerable amount of hard work she had undertaken. Minister Reilly expressed a confidence that the new team in the department would do its best to progress that hard work, especially Roisin Shortall's initiatives aimed at dealing with the great difficulties associated with alcohol abuse in Irish society."