Noel Grealish

Noel Grealish (born 16 December 1965) is an Irish Independent politician and former leader of the Progressive Democrats who has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Galway West constituency since the 2002 general election.[1]

Noel Grealish

Teachta Dála
Assumed office
May 2002
ConstituencyGalway West
Leader of the Progressive Democrats
In office
24 March 2009  20 November 2009
Preceded byCiarán Cannon
Succeeded byParty and position defunct
Deputy Leader of the Progressive Democrats
In office
25 May 2007  24 March 2009
Preceded byLiz O'Donnell
Succeeded byNone
Personal details
Born (1965-12-16) 16 December 1965
Carnmore, County Galway, Ireland
Political partyIndependent (since 2009)
Other political
Progressive Democrats (1999–2009)
Alma materNUI Maynooth

Political Career

He is from the Gaeltacht region of Carnmore, near Galway. He was formerly a Progressive Democrats member.

Grealish first contested an election in 1999, when he was elected to Galway County Council to represent the Oranmore electoral area, with 1,357 first preferences. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann at the 2002 general election, with 2,735 first preferences, succeeding long-serving TD Bobby Molloy.[1]

He was re-elected at the 2007 general election, with 5,806 first preferences.[2] As one of only two Progressive Democrat TDs elected in 2007, he was appointed as Chairman of the Progressive Democrats parliamentary party in June 2007. He was Deputy Leader of the Progressive Democrats from 25 May 2007 to 24 March 2009, succeeding Liz O'Donnell in the position. Towards the end of 2007, Grealish stated that he had discussions with a senior Fianna Fáil politician about the possibility of him joining Fianna Fáil,[3] but made the decision to stay with the Progressive Democrats.

He assumed the leadership of the Progressive Democrats on 24 March 2009, following the decision of then-leader Ciarán Cannon to stand aside and join Fine Gael. Grealish served as interim and final leader of the party until 20 November 2009, at which point the party disbanded.

He sits as an independent TD in Dáil Éireann, and was re-elected as an independent deputy at the 2011 and 2016 general elections. He supported the Fianna Fáil-Green Party government in parliamentary votes from 2007 until September 2010, but on 24 September 2010, he announced that he was withdrawing his support for the government due to health cuts.[4][5]

Anti-immigrant Rhetoric

In September 2019, he faced criticism and calls to resign after he made comments about asylum seekers, described by some commentators as racist, which described all African asylum seekers as "spongers." The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, after being told during an interview what Grealish had said, remarked "If that’s what he said, he should withdraw those remarks and make a statement on it and clarify them."[6][7][8][9] Fellow Independent TD Michael Collins defended Grealish in a radio interview, in which he claimed Ireland was "losing its culture" because of immigrants and suggested that Ireland should "look after our own people first and then when that issue is sorted, let's start looking at people from across the world". For this, both he and Grealish were criticised in Irish political circles, with Labour leader Brendan Howlin calling the pair "highly dangerous",[10][11] while Irish President Michael D. Higgins, while not directly referencing them, publicly rejected their rhetoric, suggesting it was not factual that Immigrants were replacing people in Ireland, and that Immigrants accounted for a high percentage of Ireland's GDP.[12]

Grealish courted further criticism on November 12, when he claimed in the Dáil that immigrants in Ireland were sending vast sums of money out of the country, and singled out Nigerian residents in Ireland, claiming they were sending "€3.5 Billion" in funds back to relatives in Nigeria. Grealish went on to suggest this amount could have been generated by crime. Ruth Coppinger rose to her feet and called Grealish's remarks "Disgraceful racism".[13] Responding to his question, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called on Grealish to present "any evidence" that the funds were generated by crime, while also citing the long history of Irish emigrants sending money back to Ireland. The Central Statistics Office of Ireland debunked his reading of the statistics on November 13, correcting him by stating the amount being sent back was only €17 Million. Furthermore, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe called on Grealish to clarify why he focused specifically on Nigerians and to justify his presentation of his figures. Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said he didn't like what Grealish was insinuating and referred to his rhetoric as "disgusting and potentially dangerous".[14][15]


  1. "Noel Grealish". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 7 February 2009.
  2. "Noel Grealish". Retrieved 7 February 2009.
  3. Brian McDonald (6 November 2007). "PDs teeter on brink as Grealish holds talks with FF". Irish Independent. Retrieved 10 January 2008.
  4. "Noel Grealish withdraws support for Government". Irish Independent. 24 September 2010.
  5. "Noel Grealish withdraws support for Govt". RTÉ News. 24 September 2010.
  6. Gataveckaite, Gabija; O'Connell, Hugh (12 September 2019). "TD Noel Grealish urged to retract alleged remarks about asylum seekers". Irish Independent. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  7. Murray, Seán (13 September 2019). "Taoiseach calls on Galway TD to withdraw remarks made at direct provision centre public meeting". Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  8. Bradley, Dara (20 September 2019). "Is Noel Grealish a racist? On a scale of one to 10". Connacht Tribune. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  9. Lehane, Mícheál (12 November 2019). "Grealish cash transfer claims 'shameful' - Immigrant Council". RTÉ. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  10. O'Shea, Joe (18 September 2019). "Cork TD Michael Collins slammed for 'dangerous' comments about immigrants". Irish Sun. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  11. McQuinn, Cormac (18 September 2019). "'Our own people' should come first before we help immigrants - TD claims". Irish Independent. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  12. Loughlin, Elaine (25 September 2019). "Higgins: Some people have 'abused' facts about asylum seekers coming to Ireland". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  13. Lehane, Mícheál (12 November 2019). "Unease ripples through Dáil following Grealish remarks". RTÉ. Ireland. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  14. Ryan, Órla (12 November 2019). "FactCheck: No, €3.5 billion was not sent to Nigeria by people living in Ireland over the past eight years". Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  15. Loughlin, Elaine (13 November 2019). "Varadkar dismisses figures cited by Noel Grealish relating to money sent to Nigeria each year". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 13 November 2019. Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy also hit out at Mr Grealish and said he didn't like what he was inferring or insinuating with the remarks. "Noel has questions to answer about what he was trying to do in the Dail because I believe it was bigger than just a simple question. It was disgusting and potentially dangerous," said Mr Murphy.
Preceded by
Bobby Molloy
(Progressive Democrats)
Progressive Democrats Teachta Dála for Galway West
Succeeded by
as Independent TD
Preceded by
as Progressive Democrats TD
Independent Teachta Dála for Galway West
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ciarán Cannon
Leader of the Progressive Democrats

Party disbanded in 2009
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