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DUP U-turn as it drops fees for media to attend party conference

DUP leader Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds at the party's annual conference last year
Brendan Hughes

THE DUP has dropped a £150 charge for some media to attend its party conference.

Last year the party raised eyebrows after introducing the fee for journalists who had not submitted accreditation forms several weeks in advance.

Such charges for the press to attend are unheard of in Northern Ireland or the Republic, but the fees are more commonplace in Britain where party conferences are significantly larger.

The DUP's introduction of fees was thought to be in response to anticipating a larger press presence in 2017, due to its confidence-and-supply deal to prop up the minority Conservative government at Westminster.

However, the fees have not returned for this year's DUP annual conference, which will be held on Saturday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast.

Last year one southern party source said there would be "uproar" from the press if similar charges were introduced by Oireachtas parties, while another branded it a "money-grab".

The DUP declined to say in 2017 why it had introduced the fees for some members of the press attending its annual conference, which was held at La Mon Hotel outside Belfast.

When asked why the fees did not feature in relation to accreditation applications for Saturday's conference, the DUP did not respond to requests for a comment.

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