ULSTER Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has invited a Marxist to address a UUP conference on poverty.
Goretti Horgan, a long-standing member of the Socialist Workers Party, will address the UUP seminar ‘on areas of multiple deprivation’ next Wednesday.
According to an agenda for the event Ms Horgan, who is married to veteran socialist politician and writer Eamonn McCann, will speak about youth poverty.
The conference will hear from two other speakers — former PUP leader Dawn Purvis and Les Allamby, director of the Law Centre and chairman of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) — as well as from Mr Nesbitt.
When asked why the party had invited a Marxist to address its event, given that Mr Nesbitt has said that he wants the party to be centre-right in outlook, a UUP spokesman said: “Goretti Horgan is a professional in the field with a background in the subject.
“We believe it is important to listen to a range of different viewpoints and perspectives so that current thinking can be challenged and tested and fresh thinking can be applied, rather than simply reinforce existing positions.”
In a promotional flyer for next week’s event, Mr Nesbitt says: “Since my recent election as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, I have made clear that tackling poverty, in all its forms, and addressing multiple deprivation, will be key policy areas for the Ulster Unionist Party.
“As part of an ongoing series of engagements, the Ulster Unionist Party has pleasure in inviting you to a seminar on the 20th June.
“The seminar will focus on three key issues – education, youth poverty and the potential impact of welfare reform on Northern Ireland.
“Fourteen years ago, the Belfast Agreement made many commitments that remain undelivered. My party believes in social justice, an end to poverty, and the opening up of opportunities for all.”