Whenever a political party's annual conference takes place, one can look forward to nothing but speeches, applause at regular intervals, speeches, workshops, goody bags filled with pens and branded notebooks, and maybe a speech. It's like Christmas for politicos, and last week's UUP Annual Party Conference at Belfast's Ramada Hotel was no different.
Somewhere near Dohuk and the 4,000 year old town where the three wise men possibly began their journey to Bethlehem is a Christian monastery set high on a mountain with commanding views of tremendous scenery. Sadly, our driver had no idea where it was and I only managed to get directions by e mailing a friend in Hawaii.
The working class enclaves in inner-city Belfast have soaring poverty and joblessness rates. Once the voice of hardline unionism, the DUP has become increasingly mainstream and is seen to represent these communities less and less, with a similar process happening on the other side of the political divide.