DUP charging media to attend party conference

DUP leader Arlene Foster at the party's annual conference last year at La Mon hotel
DUP leader Arlene Foster at the party's annual conference last year at La Mon hotel

THE DUP is charging the media to attend its party conference this weekend.

Journalists and other media who submitted accreditation forms after October 31 are each being charged £150.

Fees for the press to attend party conferences are unheard of in Northern Ireland or the Republic.

But similar 'late-registration' charges are more commonplace in Britain where the big parties can attract hundreds of media personnel to their conferences, which run for several days and are attended by thousands of delegates.

Party conferences in Northern Ireland usually last a day or two and are attended by around a dozen media representatives.

The DUP's introduction of fees is thought to be in response to anticipating a larger press presence this year, due to its confidence-and-supply deal with the Conservative government at Westminster.

In the south, party conferences can attract upwards of 100 media workers including journalists and photographers.

One southern party source said there would be "uproar" from the press if similar charges were introduced by Oireachtas parties. Another branded it a "money-grab".

But in Britain for example, the Liberal Democrats are charging the media a late-registration fee of £95 for their spring conference next year.

The DUP's annual party conference takes place tomorrow at La Mon Hotel outside Belfast.

A media accreditation form on the party's website reads: "Please note, accreditation is free until October 31. Applications after this date will be processed as observer passes and will incur a charge of £150."

The DUP was asked why it has introduced fees for some members of the press attending its annual conference, but the party declined to comment.