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.

UUP Conference: Mike and Colum address the party faithful; opposition policies still sketchy #UUP16

FAMILIAR VENUE BUT SOME NEW FACES at the UUP conference today. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood’s was received with a standing ovation, while Mike Nesbitt set out his stall to convince critics why his chosen path was the correct one. Confident performances, but still lacking the detail of Opposition policies that will be developed.

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.

2016/7 NI Party Conference dates

PARTY CONFERENCE SCHEDULE – a list of the 2016/17 party conferences and gatherings most relevant to followers of NI politics. It’ll be updated with information as and when the parties decide and share their plans, and updated with links to Slugger’s conference coverage after each event.

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 …

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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 …

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2015/6 Party Conference dates + podcast

Party conference season is a bit like a prolonged pilgrimage for those of us who attend the annual gatherings of up to ten political parties operating in Northern Ireland. What what are they really like? The bulk of the conferences are squeezed into October and November, with the remainder running in January or March before election season begins. We’ll update this post with links to conference write-ups as well as  new details when they become available. So far, the line-up – …

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Round-up of press reaction to DUP conference #dup14

So what did the Monday papers think of the DUP’s weekend conference in La Mon? In an Irish Times opinion piece under the headline of “DUP leader’s subtle message of co-operation to end gridlock” Gerry Moriarty pulled out Peter Robinson’s statement – buried in his speech – about the need for the DUP and Sinn Fein to do business together. There is still a bitter rump in the party that hates hearing that line but Robinson realised that, in the …

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Noisy DUP conference focuses on election and a one-sided understanding of respect and tolerance #dup14

The DUP were in election mode at their annual conference this year. Gone was any outreach to soft unionist voters. Faced with a first-past-the-post election in May 2015, the DUP reverted to core values for core voters. Attendance in the main hall of La Mon Hotel for Peter Robinson’s address was a little down on the previous couple of years: the seats were all taken but there were fewer people standing at the back. New members I’d noticed a few …

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Local press reflect on SDLP conference, support for McDonnell, abortion & other NI leaders

The Belfast Telegraph published the results of their straw poll survey of 50 delegates at the SDLP party conference on Saturday. When walking through the exhibition space outside the main hall I declined the opportunity offered to answer the interviewer’s questions. 32% of surveyed delegates did not want Alasdair McDonnell to lead the SDLP into the 2016 Assembly election. And only 36% positively did want him to, leaving 32% undecided (or unwilling to express an opinion). From the mood of …

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Review of the SDLP conference – lacking passion and oomph … perhaps waiting for a new leader #sdlp14 [audio]

The SDLP conference took place on Friday and Saturday in the Ramada Hotel. Using the same venue as the UUP’s get-together four weeks ago, the nationalist party had chosen to divide the main ballroom in half, swapping delegate seats for more exhibitor space. But it wasn’t just the layout and configuration that contrasted with their unionist cousins. This year’s SDLP conference lacked passion. That’s not entirely true: on Saturday afternoon Dolores Kelly and Alex Attwood delivered speeches with gusto and …

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2014/5 NI Party Conference dates and venues (updated)

Workers Party NI conference table sweets and agenda

This post will be updated as dates and venues are confirmed by the parties. Saturday 11 October – PUP – Dunsilly Hotel, Antrim, BT41 2JH [reviewed] Saturday 18 October – UUP – Ramada Hotel, Shaws Bridge [reviewed] Saturday 25 October – Workers Party – The Grosvenor Hall, Glengall Street, Belfast Friday 14 and Saturday 15 November – SDLP – Ramada Hotel, Shaws Bridge [reviewed and press round-up] ? … – éirígí – … Friday 21 and Saturday 22 November – …

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Party Conference Speeches – if only they were a chance to scrutinise & refresh arguments & messages!

An August Economist magazine featured a timely article [PAYWALL] looking forward to the Autumn party conference speeches. Focussed on the main English conferences the unnamed writer noted: The process can begin as soon as June. An early task is to cook up one or two big policy announcements, without which no conference is complete (an unwritten rule that has cost taxpayers many millions over the years). Welcome to NI where the Executive agree policies and ministers *never* announce policies outside …

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