In the end the political institutions gave way, unable to stand under the weight of this particular crisis.
This was Stormont’s last day before its next day – with an election in between.
After that, who knows?
The quieter conversations away from the cameras are focused on that post-election uncertainty. The what happens after the votes are counted?
What will the voting deliver in terms of the numbers on the party doors; something similar or something different? Who is safe, who is not?
In the lead up to the election, people are seeing the wood pellets through the trees.
The RHI debacle is a story that won’t go away, but it is only part of this particular political script.
There is also an understanding of the implications of the wider crisis in terms of that very public breakdown in the DUP/Sinn Fein relationship.
In a couple of snatched conversations with a DUP politician at Stormont in recent days, he twice raised the issue of Sinn Fein’s red lines; lines he believes the DUP cannot cross and that Sinn Fein cannot step back from.
We know the Stormont timetable after the election; the Assembly to meet within a week, then two further weeks to get an Executive in place.
“Stormont is being formally dissolved. The lights are going off and no one should be under any illusions about what it will require to get them back on,” Sinn Fein’s new leader in the north Michelle O’Neill said in a statement.
This takes us back to the main thought that emerged in that conversation with a senior DUP politician in recent days – the lines that one party won’t cross and that another party can’t step back from.
Another unionist politician with whom I chatted today, quipped about 2019 as Stormont’s return.
This is the uncertainty. There is joking about how long this might take to fix, but within the joke a sense of the seriousness of the situation. That knowing and not knowing, which leaves people asking, how long is a piece of string?
We know this election is not back into government, but straight into negotiations.
Watch the legacy battle that is playing out; the sense that soldiers are being scapegoated.
It, of course ignores Operation Kenova – or the Stakeknife investigation – being led by Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher; an investigation that will look at agent activity and handling and put a string of IRA killings under an investigative torch.
It also ignores the possibility of a loyalist supergrass trial.
There has been a late wakening up to the meaning of legacy investigations; that they are not just about what some would term the “baddies”, but also those they viewed as the “goodies”.
After ten years of consultation and negotiations, can decisions on a process on the past be reached within three weeks of the March 2 election?
Another stage was being created in Parliament Buildings this afternoon for another of the many events held there.
What will the political stage look like in six weeks time, the main actors and the next scenes?
Can this place be saved? Only if a completely different working relationship can be established.
Who needs and wants Stormont more?
We will get the answer to that question in the heat of the negotiations that will follow the counting of the votes.
Red lines – Won’t cross – Can’t step back…
It is too early to be certain and definitive about any of that.