'Independents will put the needs of the country before local politics'

Noel Grealish talks Government formation, consensus, and traffic congestion

The second man elected for Galway West, Independent TD Noel Grealish. Photo:- Kernan Andrews

The second man elected for Galway West, Independent TD Noel Grealish. Photo:- Kernan Andrews

He was elected without reaching the quota in 2002, 2007 and 2011. There were no scraping in at the very end for Noel Grealish in Election 2016 though. This time the result was emphatic.

Dep Grealish had been predicted to take the second or third seat in the run up to polling day. On the first count he secured a very healthy 7,187 first preferences, rising steadily through a number of large vote transfers, particularly from Fidelma Heasly-Eames (+423 ), Cllr Mike Cubbard (+441 ), and Cllr Mary hoade (+369 ), to his finally passing out the quota on Sunday afternoon - his fourth re-election to Dáil Éireann in a row.

“It’s great for the team around me to get to the quota,” he tells the Galway Advertiser. “My vote has gone up in every election, and it’s a great compliment to my team.” That team features his former Progressive Democrat colleagues, such as councillors Declan McDonnell, Tom Welby, Donal Lyons, and Terry O’Flaherty, formidable vote getters all.

Dep Grealish has been part of, and/or supported previous governments, and as an Independent in the 32nd Dáil he may well be called on to support the next administration, even if, at this stage, whatever form that may take is a mystery to even the most seasoned of political observers.

“We won’t know what it is until all the counts are over,” Dep Grealish notes, pragmatically, and the Carnmore has always been pragmatic in his approach to politics. “There is no point speculating on who I will be talking to, or who will be talking to me. I’ve stayed Independent, and I’m staying Independent in the next Dáil. It’s has worked and is working for me.”

Repeated claims, and dire predictions, were made by the outgoing Government, and sections of the commentariat, throughout the election campaign, that political and economic instability and uncertainty will reign if Independents and small parties are elected in large numbers, was given short shrift by an electorate, unimpressed with how established parties had managed the State. Whoever forms the next administration will need the support, perhaps even require the membership of, Independents.

“If Independents have to come to the table to help form the next Government, they will and they will put the needs of the country before local politics,” Dep Grealish declares. “Look, if I had told you a few years ago that Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness would sit down together in Government in the North you would have called for the men in white coats. You can never know what will happen. The numbers will determine the outcome.”

It is not only in the Dáil that Dep Grealish is hoping to see consensus and different opinions hoping to sit down and discuss issues of concern, he is hoping that will happen here too in Galway West.

“We have to come up with traffic solutions. Galway is grinding to a stand still,” he says. “The N6/outer bypass is important but it will be another 10 years before it may come into operation. I want to see the five Galway West TDs site down together, and work together, to come up with solutions so we can get people moving from one end of the city to another.”

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