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Backbench mischief

Who are the Fine Gael five-a-side club - and just what the hell are they up to?

Backbench TD Eoghan Murphy explained all to earlier this month…

IT’S A LOOSE arrangement, there are no formal meetings and no collective policy positions. But the Fine Gael ‘five-a-side club’ has been the subject of much discussion in political circles over the past three years.

‘Five-a-side’ was the term applied to the group of first-time TDs by the Irish Times political sketch writer Miriam Lord three years ago and it’s stuck ever since, but there are no actual five-a-side football matches.

Its loose membership includes FG backbenchers Anthony Lawlor, Pat Deering, Brendan Griffin, Noel Harrington, Paul Connaughton, Sean Kyne, Sean Conlan and Eoghan Murphy. All of them were elected to the Dáil for the first time in 2011.

They talk, sometimes publicly, about the lack of political reform and the need for restraint on public sector pay. Their push for greater austerity has led to them being dubbed the ‘Bullingdon Club’ by some mischievous Labour TDs.

Murphy has sometimes been reported as being the group’s ringleader, orchestrating a series of moves designed to undermine the party leadership. But it’s not like that at all, he insisted in an interview with earlier this month.

Is the group anti-Enda? Did it draw-up a ‘hit list’ of Fine Gael ministers it wanted to take out? Here’s what Murphy had to say:

Video / YouTube

Video: Dan McGuill/

More from Eoghan Murphy: Why I got really pissed off at the government

Read: Would Leo be a better leader than Enda? We asked this Fine Gael TD (four times)

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