Galway West TD Noel Grealish has ruled out joining any political alliance and will be standing for re-election to Galway West in the 2016 General Election as a “true Independent”.
On Monday, Dep Grealish said he would not be “joining any party or loose alliance of Independent TDs in the run-up to the General Election”. As such he has turned down membership of the grouping of Independents being formed by Dublin TDs Shane Ross and Finian McGrath, despite being approached by them to consider joining. The Carnmore based politician also refused to become part of Lucinda Creighton’s Renua party.
“I have discussed the matter with my colleagues and supporters in Galway West over the past few months and have come to the conclusion that I can better serve the people of Galway as a true Independent,” he said.
Dep Grealish was elected to his third term in Dáil Éireann in 2011, securing more than 6,200 first preferences, despite failing to reach the quota. However with poll figures consistently showing support for Independents between 27 and 30 per cent, he is expected to do better next time out. John Mulholland Bookmakers is offering 1/4 odds on his being returned.
In a five seater like Galway West, 27/30 is close to two quotas, which potentially allows for two Independents to be returned. However the battle for the Independent seat - or seats - will be among the most fascinating in the constituency. Dep Grealish will be in competition with Left Independent Catherine Connolly, as well as Sen Fidelma Healy-Eames and county councillor James Charity - the latter two being based in Dep Grealish’s stomping ground of the far east of the constituency. At this point, Grealish and Connolly are expected to prevail.
Seasoned political watchers will note though that Dep Grealish says he will not join any party or alliance "in the run-up to the General Election", saying nothing about what might happen after that. This could be significant if there is a hung parliament and Independent alliances or small parties have a chance of holding the balaqnce of power. In such circumstances, if the figures are needed, Dep Grealish could then be persuaded to make common cause with such entities. However it is worth remembering that he resisted fierce pressure and speculation after the 2007 General Election and the demise of the PDs to join Fianna Fáil.