Howlin to speak on allowances at next FG meeting

Labour’s Brendan Howlin, the public expenditure minister, is set to be invited to speak at Fine Gael’s next parliamentary party meeting after an outburst last night by TDs over the failure to cut workers allowances.

A gang of first-time TDs from a rebel group known as the “Five-a-Side Club” led angry complaints to Enda Kenny over this week’s climbdown on cutting public service allowances.

Party sources said Dublin South East TD Eoghan Murphy was the most vociferous at last night’s weekly party meeting over the allowances, and was backed by Galway East’s Paul Connaughton and Kerry South’s Brendan Griffin, among others.

“Seven or eight speakers spoke,” said a source. “They were very annoyed saying [public service workers] can’t be seen to be getting allowances for nothing.”

Mr Kenny told party members he wanted to hold the Government together but that he was determined to get more savings from the Croke Park agreement.

The issue was discussed for a quarter of an hour.

“You could wrote in two lines what they were saying. They were all agreed. It was the Five-a-Side Club,” said another party source.

The so-called club consists of first-time TDs who, using the excuse that they have been playing football, have met a number of times and voiced frustration over party and Government issues.

Several sources confirmed it was agreed to invite Labour’s Brendan Howlin to next week’s meeting to address concerns.

“Kenny said he wouldn’t mind. It’s just like when Francis Fitzgerald was asked to speak to Labour,” added another source.

Others who raised concern at the inability to tackle allowances included Kildare North’s Anthony Lawlor and Cavan-Monaghan’s Sean Conlan.

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