Party's over for the PDs

Michael McDowell was largely but not entirely to blame for the Progressive Democrats' election debacle. Others contributed handsomely to the defeat and now there seems little point to the party's continuance By Adam Maguire

A nice little earner

Both Fianna Fáil and the Greens promised a reduction in the overall number of ministers. Instead, the number of junior ministers has been increased yet again, now seven more than Fianna Fáil promised. By Joe O'Malley

Black's extravagance under spotlight

The use of the company private jet for a $500,000 holiday, a $60,000 birthday party with guests Henry Kissinger and Donald Trump, and a $4.6 million refit of an apartment to make it habitable – all billed to the Hollinger media company. These are some of the details of excess and extravagance that emerged during a two month trial accusing media mogul Conrad Black of looting $60m from his Hollinger media empire. Black (62) is accused of 17 charges of fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, and obstruction of justice and faces up to 100 years in prison if he is convicted.

The Avant Gardener

Gardener Diarmuid Gavin, reputed for his wacky bold garden designs, returned to Ireland this year having reaped success across the pond. But success did not come easily. By Emma Browne

Diarmuid Gavin has been called many things – “enfant terrible”, “the punk rock gardener”, “the Damien Hirst of garden design”. And the impression portrayed by the media, mainly the British media, is of an arrogant, difficult man with a big ego.