'After a general election it's always a numbers game'

Noel Grealish returns to the Dáil with his highest vote to date

Independent TD Noel Grealish celebrates with supporters on his re-election on Monday. Photos by Mike Shaughnessy

Independent TD Noel Grealish celebrates with supporters on his re-election on Monday. Photos by Mike Shaughnessy

He is loved and loathed in equal measure. He is controversial and hugely popular politician. His statements about African migrants being "spongers" disgusted many. This election was his best performance to date.

Independent TD Noel Grealish was first elected to the Dáil in 2002, and on that occasion, and again in 2007 and 2011, he was elected without reaching the quota. In 2016 that changed. He took the second seat on 7,187 votes - an 11.2 per cent share, and was elected on the 13th count, with a total vote of 11,073, exceeding the quota by 316.

In this election, from almost the moment the first tallies were being done, it was obvious he would be returned to the Dáil, and on a stronger vote - by the time of the first count, he took third place on 8,043 first preferences, or 13.3 per cent, an increase of 856 votes from 2016. He eventually took the second seat on the eighth count, with a total of 10,393.

"It was a team effort," he tells the Galway Advertiser. "I want to thank everyone who was involved in my campaign and everyone who came out to vote for me, giving me their first, second, or third preference."

Noel Grealish

Barring another election, the odds favour the formation of a new Government involving Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, and the Greens (with, perhaps, the Social Democrats ). Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald has already said she wants to lead a Left leaning coalition. In that light, what role, if any, can Independents like Dep Grealish, play in the 33rd Dáil?

"The people have spoken, they've gone against Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, they'll have to sit back and see why did that happen," he says, "but after a general election it's always a numbers game, so we'll have to wait and see what happens, but a government has to be formed, there are a lot of issues out there, so it's important we have a solid government in place for that.

'There are always Africans coming in to me, and I've always helped people from all nations, and my office is open to all'

"My priorities will be the hospital, the waiting lists and the A&E, and the homelessness crisis, they are the issues I want to work on with the new government. We need to get the minor injuries unit up and running in Merlin Park, that will reduce attendance at A&E by more than 70 per cent. We also need to see more houses being built, especially for young couples who can't afford to buy houses. We have to address that, and homelessness, as quickly as possible and in tandem."

For many, Dep Grealish's victory was a cause for celebration. For many, it was a cause for concern, that a Galway TD who had uttered negative remarks about the African community in Ireland, could receive such strong support from the public. "Some people raised it on the door with me, and I respect that," he said. "I've always met with members of the African community. At my office every week, there are always Africans coming in to me, and I've always helped people from all nations, and my office is open to all."

 

Page generated in 0.1093 seconds.