Grealish to clarify his position with PDs tonight


PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS TD Noel Grealish will finally clarify his position with party colleagues this evening. The Galway West deputy has been the subject of long-running speculation that he intends to resign and join Fianna Fáil.

Two meetings of the PDs are scheduled for this evening. The parliamentary party of two TDs and two Senators will meet first and this will be followed by an aggregate meeting of PD elected representatives.

The parliamentary party was originally scheduled to meet last Wednesday but this was postponed after Mr Grealish suffered a bereavement. The time and location of this meeting had not been disclosed at time of writing.

A party spokesman said the aggregate meeting would take place at an unspecified location in Newbridge, Co Kildare.

Speaking to RTÉ yesterday, Mr Grealish was asked about his future plans.

"I made it quite clear all along that I wasn't making any comment about my future until I sit down with my colleagues. I'm looking forward to the meeting and hopefully all this will be clarified."

Mr Grealish's party colleague, Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney refused to comment yesterday on reported plans for a merger of the Progressive Democrats with Fianna Fáil.

"The party has arranged a number of meetings this week of the parliamentary party, of the national executive, and of the councillors and it's a matter in the first instance for those groups within the party to have frank discussion and to make decisions and thereafter a matter for the leader of the party to communicate to the wider party so that all the members of our party can be involved in any discussions in relation to our future."

Speaking to reporters in Dublin, she continued: "I said on Friday and I repeat that the Progressive Democrats have to be realistic given the electoral situation we found ourselves in after the last general election.

"There will be no general election in my view for four years, so the members of the parliamentary party do not have to face an electoral contest for up to four years, but the councillors do, next June, and in that context I think we have to have some frank discussions within our party."

When asked it there would be absolute clarity about the future of the PDs after this evening's meetings, Ms Harney replied: "Well no, it is a matter for the members of the organisation. The party has over 4,000 members and it is a matter for those members to decide what the future of the Progressive Democrats should be.

"It's not a matter for me. I'm simply one member with one vote. I will give my views to the organisation, but at the end of the day the organisation has to make a decision in relation to the future of the party . . . There's nothing I would like to see more than the party continue and thrive and succeed, that would be my overwhelming wish, but I have said on Friday and I repeat here, I have to be realistic given the electoral situation we find ourselves in now.

"We have to have a frank discussion about whether or not that possibility exists," the Minister added.