Mr Grealish has gone to ground since he made the remarks at a public meeting about plans to convert a hotel into a direct provision centre in Oughterard, Co Galway, over a week ago.
A video of the meeting shows Mr Grealish referring to the Government taking 200 more refugees from Africa. “These are economic migrants. These are people that are coming over here from Africa to sponge off the system here in Ireland,” he said.
The remarks have been heavily criticised, with the Taoiseach among those calling for them to be withdrawn.
Galway county councillor Thomas Welby said that Mr Grealish stands by his remarks. “Why would you apologise for something that he thinks is right. That’s the reaction he’s getting, stick with it,” he said.
Mr Welby said he had spoken to Mr Grealish on several occasions in recent days. Mr Grealish has not responded to calls from this newspaper.
A member of the Rural Independents Group, he was also absent from the Dail last week and gave up his scheduled slot at Leaders’ Questions last Thursday. “He was supposed to take it, but he didn’t,” Mr Grealish’s colleague, Independent TD Mattie McGrath, said. “He hasn’t been around at all this week. He’s missing in action.”
Mr Grealish’s remarks have put his relationship with Fine Gael under scrutiny. Last October, the Galway West TD announced in a statement issued by the Government Press Office that he would support the minority Government through Brexit, following talks with the Taoiseach and Tanaiste. A Government spokesman said Mr Grealish “has no formal agreement with the Government”.