SDLP Leadership team delivers on stage but can the party turn the corner?

The SDLP gathered for the first time in over two years for their conference at Titanic Belfast. In what has been a political year of many highs of lows for the party it was a relatively low key affair for most of the morning. Delegates (those who turned up) debated a steady stream of motions on welfare reform, environment and policing. The only potentially controversial motion that was up for debate was one regarding the naming of parks after actors … Read more

DUP promise “a balanced deal” at conference that lacked its normal spark #dup17

The religious zeal and fervour normally on show at the November DUP conference was missing from much of today’s proceedings. The banter, jeering and spontaneous bursting into song was muted, actively discouraged (or forbidden). The flags, normally already laid out on seats when the delegates arrive, were only distributed after lunch. It seem that with supposed power in Westminster comes responsibility.

Long: “a battle of hope over expectation [but] good work is never wasted” #NWAP17

In her speech to the party’s autumn conference held in Derry, Alliance leader Naomi Long this afternoon called for a way to be found through the current political impasse to “[demonstrate] through words and actions, mutual respect for both British and Irish Identity and our commitment to share this space together, in co-operation rather than conflict”.

Swann calls for a ‘new unionism’ of ‘radical moderates’ at strident conference #UUP17

Sustained anti-Irish Language Act rhetoric was an effective smokescreen that diverted attention from any focus on the UUP’s disappointing election results. Robin Swann confidently delivered his first speech to conference as party leader with a call a new unionism and the desire for radical moderates (though he was light on detail).

Greens thankful for consolidation and plan for further growth

GREEN PARTY NI hired a larger room this year in the Clayton Hotel for their annual party conference. As well as hearing from Clare Bailey who was stepping down as deputy leader, party leader Steven Agnew spoke about his thankfulness for volunteer commitment and stable finances that had sustained the party through unexpected elections and a desire to see the professionalism of their ground campaign continue to grow. The morose political mood across society was less evident than I expected.

TUV Conference lifts the DUP/Sinn Féin carpet to see what’s been swept underneath

The TUV’s election results in May were disappointing, but the party took great cheer from the EU Referendum result (and the recent US Presidential election result). Taking credit for long-time lobbying for the creation of an Opposition, Jim Allister encouraged the two opposition parties to make it sustainable and help lobby for a permanent change to voluntary rather than mandatory coalition.

DUP’s victory lap celebrates election success, belittles Opposition, criticises Dublin & sets out Brexit negotiation principles

DUP CONFERENCE celebrated Assembly election success and demonstrated party unity as it poked fun at the Opposition, criticised the Irish Government, and set out the DUP’s principles for Brexit negotiations. The leader’s speech was light on policy – perhaps understandable in the vacuum before specific Programme for Government action plans are announced.

PUP Conference receives internal and external advice on its image & reform – will it listen & act?

PARTY CONFERENCE season has started with the Progressive Unionist Party meeting at Corr’s Corner Hotel. Both internal and external voices critiqued the party’s perception problem and hinted at ways that it could addressed. The impact of women in the party continues to grow. Deputy leader John Kyle was honest about the disappointing election result. And party leader Billy Hutchinson called for progress on legacy issues, economic growth, welfare reform, and the persistence of poverty and deprivation.

Subdued Alliance say it’s “time to get Northern Ireland moving forward, faster” #ap2016

SUBDUED & LIBERAL – Today’s Alliance Party conference was subdued compared with last year’s ‘Long election rally’. Delegate numbers were stable, but the palpable passion of 2015 was muted. Liberal values were emphasised as much as sharing and reconciliation, with several speeches mentioning the party’s support for LGBT rights and limited reform of abortion.

Green Party NI conference – tackling waste that holds back Northern Ireland

Over the last four or five years that I’ve been covering Green Party conferences, the number of exhibitors, the number of delegates and the confidence of the delegates has been increasing. There were a lot of new faces this year, many but not all of them young. As Green Party activists south of the border nervously awaited results from the Irish General Election, the conference agenda in the Clayton Hotel in Belfast included encouraging video messages from the Green Party … Read more

TUV lay out vision of “voluntary coalition and vibrant opposition as path to durable devolution” #TUV2015

DURABLE DEVOLUTION through voluntary coalition and vibrant opposition was the promise of the TUV’s leader Jim Allister at his party’s annual conference in Templepatrick. 300 delegates lapped up the sharp criticism of other parties and welcomed Henry Reilly to the fold. But is the party’s hard edge and tone of voice holding back their support at the ballot box?

Party faithful pay tribute to Robinson as he “steps back from front line politics & steps out of the limelight” #dup15

There were few surprises during the Saturday sessions of the DUP conference. While the next party leader and First Minister were anointed with praise, neither Nigel Dodds or Arlene Foster were taking anything for granted and second guessing the inevitable view of the elected representatives who will shortly back their formal promotion to new roles. There was a sense of “less is more” about the agenda, with many loose cannons and critical friends “being seen but not heard”. Other than … Read more

David Ford: we are more committed to transforming Northern Ireland than you, Mr Robinson #ap2015

This year’s Alliance Party conference was focussed on party members and supporters rather than reaching out to the public at large. Delegates were reminded about the core party values and principles. There were no visiting clerics or representatives of loyalist band forums. No one from the Syriza Greek government. Instead, Alliance heard from friends in the victims, integrated education, science, arts and environment sectors. While Peter Robinson was criticised for making DUP victory in East Belfast his number one priority, … Read more