Ciarán Cannon: Christmas dinner

THE PARTY may be all over bar the shouting yet that is not going to deter the Progressive Democrats from having one final lavish Christmas bash this year.

Party leader Senator Ciarán Cannon is hosting the party's last supper in a private room in the Unicorn restaurant on Merrion Row near Government Buildings on 8 December.

Cannon has invited the other three members of the parliamentary party, party staff and the National Executive to the Christmas Dinner at the city centre eatery. The move has angered some party insiders and one said, "The PDs have voted to disband, so much of their finances are coming exclusively from the taxpayer. And now they are blowing it on expensive dinners and free bars."

The party decided that they did not have a viable future at a special conference on 8 November. The outcome of this was that the control for the wind-up was passed to the national executive.

"The plug will be finally pulled when they write to the registrar of political parties in Leinster House and ask them to take the party off the list of parties. Peter Wyer from Galway will do that as he is chairman of the National Executive," said a spokesman for the Minister for Health Mary Harney.

Cannon and Harney have both said in recent weeks that they expect the party to be finally wound up in January or February. Cannon was unavailable for comment when the Sunday Tribune attempted to contact him about the Christmas party last week.

Harney's spokesman said, "There is going to be a meal on 8 December. Each year after the PDs' final national executive meeting of the year in December, they go for a meal afterwards. Members of the National Executive don't claim mileage expenses throughout the year for coming up and down from places like Galway so the meal is a mark of regard for the people who have travelled without expenses. The meal will happen this year and it will be the last one."

Elsewhere, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Labour and Fine Gael appear to be having more modest Christmas parties.

It was recently reported that Taoiseach Brian Cowen will not be hosting an official Christmas party for his staff.