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Photos from Alliance Party Conference…

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Here’s some of the pics I took at Saturday’s conference in the Dunadry. Ford’s speech can be downloaded via the box.net widget here.

Filed under: Alliance Party, conferences,

A quick response…

Speeches done. The conference hall empties...

That’s the main part of the conference completed. I’m leaving now and will post up later. I’ve been tweeting and twitpic-ing away. Check out the timeline of the @openunionism twitterstream – you can click through from the widget on the right.

My initial impression was that this conference provided surprisingly little content. The celebratory mood is to be expected but I felt it was excessive. While not quite in the same bracket as the Labour Party conference of 1992, there is a danger in being too exultant and self-congratulatory only two months out from an election.

The retrospective elements to the speeches – ‘I predicted everything and I was right’ – did nothing to cement the vision of the Party. I felt this may look more like conceit and self-absorption.

In terms of look and feel of the event, the Alliance Party are still behind the other parties. I was told there were around 500 people at the Dunadry today (including exhibitors), and it did feel very compact here.  I hear they will move to another venue for next year’s conference. If the Party’s upward trajectory continues they will certainly need extra space next year.

But if the Alliance Party are to grow, then the content of this conference will not provide the momentum. In addition, the Party will not be as attractive to voters of Unionist parties if they continue to peddle the line that their electors are propping up prejudice / are prejudiced (as Stephen Farry did).

I’ll do into this in more detail, but this is my initial reaction.

Filed under: Alliance Party, conferences

Naomi Long’s speech at Alliance conference…

The panel prior to Naomi Long's speech

Some elected pars from Naomi’s speech.

Not many would have predicted that a year later I would be standing here at the MP for East Belfast and that David Ford would have taken up the reins at the Department of Justice. I say not many because, if you read David Ford’s speech from last year, you’ll see that he did. In fact he was remarkably accurate in his predictions for the year ahead. Any of you who play the lottery may well be regretting not asking him to give some advice on the numbers, while he was on  roll.

The people know that voting Alliance works. In May it delivered a change in who represents them in Westminster, but I think it has also driven a change in those who don’t. Does anyone really think the DUP would be making positive noises about integrated education if they had held the seat in East Belfast? The people of East Belfast led the way in May, and now others are following them.

Alliance played a critical role in the negotiations which led to the devolution of policing and justice powers. Our focus was to ensure that the Minister, whomever that would eventually be, would be able to fulfil the demands of what is a challenging and sensitive post in a way that would command the confidence of the whole community. I think we got the structures right. But most of all I think that we go the Minister right.

But being a Minister is not a fair-weather job. Creating an impression at this stage that cuts can be avoided is not just delusional, but dangerous. Refusing to face reality or causing delay by avoiding hard choices is doing the public a disservice, denying them the chance to properly examine the proposals which have been made and challenging any weaknesses. Uncertainty is always the worst option.

2010 was a remarkable year for alliance – a year of real achievement – but 2011 is a new year, full of fresh opportunities not just for this party but for the people we represent. However, between opportunity and reality lies a lot of hard work.

Filed under: Alliance Party, conferences,

Alliance Party conference…

Conference hall at Dunadry @9.30am

Open Unionism is at the Alliance Party conference. I’ll be tweeting this via the #allconf hashtag.

Will post up more material later. Enda Kenny is about to take the stage.

Filed under: Alliance Party, conferences, ,

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