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Grealish confirms defection to Dáil opposition benches

The former PD leaves over an objection to hospital funding cuts – while his former party colleague is Minister for Health.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive

THE INDEPENDENT TD for Galway West, Noel Grealish, has told local radio he is withdrawing his support for the government with immediate effect in protest at its refusal to provide extra funding for a hospital in Galway.

Grealish said he would vote against the government until the budget cuts to the West were clarified, and that he would be writing to Brian Cowen and health minister Mary Harney to inform them of his decision.

The decision comes after a briefing yesterday from the Health Service Executive on funding for University College Hospital in Galway, which apparently ended without any conclusion on whether the €10m overspent by the hospital last year would be written off.

Ironically, Grealish was one of just two Progressive Democrats elected to the Dáil in 2007 – the other being none other than the health minister.

Grealish’s defection to the opposition benches, however temporary it may turn out to be, leaves the government with a majority of 83-79, and needing the support of the two other independent TDs Jackie Healy-Rae and Michael Lowry.

The government pledged to build a bypass around Claregalway in exchange for his vote in the Dáil, but the development has yet to materialise.

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It was reported two weeks ago that Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae were potentially withdrawing the support from the government as soon as the writ is moved for the three Dáil by-elections – which, if true, would then leave the Dáil tied on 81-81 and the government requiring the support of the four Fianna Fáil “gene pool” TDs who have lost the party whip, and the casting vote of Ceann Comhairle Seamus Kirk.

If the government did not win a majority of those, it would find itself in the minority in the Dáíl.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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