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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.

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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, ,

UUP Party Conference Broadcast

UUP have launched their Party Conference Broadcast.

They are obviously focusing on the future but continue to bash Stormont branding the Government as the ‘DUP-Sinn Fein Axis’.

Andrew Charles

Filed under: conferences, UUP, UUP conference, ,

Positive, progressive and forward driven…

Positive, progressive and forward driven: that’s how I would summarise the message coming from the DUP’s Annual Conference today at La Mon, South Belfast.

Official figures put the attendance at 920 people, plus many other observers and stall holders. Some senior members remarked that it wasn’t so long ago that turnout at a DUP party conference would have been no more than 50.

For what has been a tough year for the party, despite winning 8 out of 10 Unionist seats in the Westminster election, the mood amongst members and supporters was positive.

Peter Robinson’s speech was the icing on the cake and the highlight of the day focusing on the future.

Eamonn Maillie tweeting from the conference had this to say about Peter Robinson’s speech:

“This is the most forward looking speech given by a Unionist leader for a long time.”

His speech can be read in full here.

Peter Robinson demonstrated himself to be in buoyant mood. It was remarked that his UUP equivalent, Tom Elliott, could not put up a similar performance. I appreciate that may be harsh, but that was the feeling coming from many observers.

Andrew Charles

Filed under: conferences, DUP

Applications urged for international student festival in Norway…

The International Studentfestival in Trondheim, Norway (ISFiT 2011), is the world’s largest student Festival. Every second year 450 students from across the world come together in Trondheim to discuss social and political topics at The ISFiT festival.
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The festival aims at fostering inspiration and being a starting point for international cooperation amongst students… and it’s inviting students from Northern Ireland to participate in a Dialogue seminar 01-20th February 2011. In total 24 participants – four representatives from each side of three different conflict areas (Armenia/Azerbaijan; Rwanda/Burundi; and Northern Ireland) – will spend 20 days in Norway.

Previous main speakers include Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Desmond Tutu, Betty Williams, Shirin Ebadi, and José Ramos Horta, as well as His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Looks like a great opportunity.

If anyone is interested in the festival visit www.isfit.org. Application deadline is the 15th of october – and the ISFIT team want as many as possible to get the chance to apply for and participate at the dialogue-seminar. Get involved!

Filed under: Community, conferences, ,

Tonight’s Conservative PPB

PPBs fascinate me. On a general note though, I dislike the straight piece to camera – nothing televisual in it. Always seems to be a waste of the opportunity provided by the medium.

Overall, this has more than a hint of ‘Labour isn’t working’ about it. They need to be careful about this – lest the Tories connive to invite broader comparisons with the ‘Winter of Discontent’. Any other thoughts?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Filed under: Coalition Government, conferences, Conservatives, Uncategorized,

Corporation tax win?

The Northern Ireland Secretary has said the British government is examining ways to change corporation tax levels in Northern Ireland to attract new investment.

via RTÉ News: Plans to change NI corporation tax levels.

Will check this up later…

Filed under: conferences, Conservatives,

Trimble on lessons from Northern Ireland

ICSR Peace and Security Summit, 1 July 2010 (www.icsr.info). Lessons from Northern Ireland peace process — keynote address by Lord Trimble, introduced by Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell, former Prime Minister of Canada. Trimble’s central point that it is wrong-minded to extrapolate lessons from Northern Ireland as roadmaps in other unrelated and distant conflicts is raised over at the NY Daily News.

Hat-tip to Aaron Callan for spotting this and putting it on Facebook.

PS. Incidentally, when Trimble first gets to the podium he says that the title Lord Lisnagarvey is not altogether complimentary when considered in its original Gaelic. Lisnagarvey means ‘Fort of the Gamblers’.

Filed under: academic, conferences, events, UUP, ,

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