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PDs teeter on brink as Grealish holds talks with FF

THE future of the PDs became even more precarious last night after their only backbench TD admitted he has held talks about joining Fianna Fail.

Noel Grealish also raised serious question marks about whether "the party has a future".

Along with Health Minister Mary Harney, Mr Grealish was the only survivor of the PD meltdown in the general election, when the party lost six of its eight seats.

The Galway West TD told the Irish Independent he had been approached by Fianna Fail, with a view to rejoining the party.

Mr Grealish confirmed the talks with Fianna Fail, and did not rule out joining the party in the future.

"There were approaches made to me about going back to Fianna Fail, but we will have to see what our own party is doing and whether we have a future," he said. "I said I am not going to decide anything straight away, but you never close any door. You never reject anything."

Mr Grealish also said he didn't know if the party had a future.

"We are only just back in the Dail and we have to decide about our own future -- if our own party has a future -- we don't know if we have a future.

"We have got to be realistic. It has been a terrible election for us. We lost a lot of good people and potential leaders."

In an interview with 'Galway in Focus' on City Channel TV, due to be broadcast this evening, he confirms for the first time that negotiations have taken place with a senior Fianna Fail figure, with a view to him rejoining the party.

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During the course of the interview, Mr Grealish is also understood to be particularly critical of former leader and Tanaiste, Michael McDowell.

Mr Grealish has had strong links with Fianna Fail all his life. He was a party activist in Ogra FF and a delegate to the Comhairle Ceanntair in Galway West before joining the PDs in the 1990s.

Mr Grealish was elected a county councillor in 1999 and won a seat in Dail Eireann at his first attempt in 2002.


PD sources said Mr Grealish's comments were not altogether different from previous remarks he made about the future of the party. But this is the first time he has mentioned direct talks with Fianna Fail. It was widely expected, anyway, that Mr Grealish would join Fianna Fail at some point before the next general election.

The PDs are still looking for a party leader. The party recently passed a rule allowing the party leader to not be a TD.

But Senator Fiona O'Malley appeared to shy away from the role in recent days when she said it would be difficult to mix both reorganising the party and get herself re-elected to the Dail.

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