Page last updated at 09:03 GMT, Saturday, 21 November 2009

DUP meet for annual conference

DUP delegates to gather at party conference

By Mark Devenport
BBC NI political editor

DUP activists have gathered in County Down for the party's annual conference.

The British and Irish governments will watch carefully for any hint on whether the party is prepared to move forwards with the devolution of justice.

The conference got under way on Friday night with a workshop on effective canvassing.

That is a clear nod to the forthcoming Westminster election, at which the DUP hopes to recover any ground lost to Jim Allister's Traditional Unionist Voice.

More than 30 years ago the La Mon Hotel outside Belfast was the scene of one of the IRA's worst atrocities.

This weekend it is the venue for a conference at which the DUP will survey its record of sharing power over the past two years with a transformed republican movement.

Activists will debate the prospects for an economic recovery, rural communities, public services and victims.

But British and Irish officials will be concentrating on the set piece speeches from the DUP leader Peter Robinson and his deputy Nigel Dodds, to try to assess what the party's next move might be on devolving justice.

Earlier this week the DUP published a document called "Building on Success" which defended the party's track record and said that "now is the time to take the next step forward".

But it also made it clear that next step should include reforms to the Stormont system and had nothing new to say on the transfer of justice powers.



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