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Nesbitt criticised

By Francesca Ryan

NEW Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt has been accused of “patronising” the working class with his plan to spend a day with the poor. Gerry Carroll, who stood in West Belfast for People Before Profit in last year’s Assembly election, hit out at Mr Nesbitt for the suggestion, made after he won the leadership election on Sunday. Mr Nesbitt said it was important to connect with ordinary people who feel the work done by Stormont is not relevant to them.

“What I’m thinking is we’re not connected,” he said, “and maybe what I need to do is go and find a family who will adopt me for 24 hours. I’d like to live in an area of social deprivation because I think it’s important to get a feel of what it’s like.”

Mr Carroll says Mr Nesbitt should offer people a viable alternative rather than “a daytrip” to their homes.

“Mike Nesbitt’s comments about visiting socially deprived families for 24 hours are deeply offensive, patronising and insulting,” he said.

“People are faced with real issues like job losses, benefit cuts and many more problems because of the economic recession. The last thing they need is a visit from the almighty Nesbitt. It’s an insult of the highest degree that while MLAs award themselves a £5,000 a year pay increase, they can talk about walking in other people’s shoes in an attempt to understand the hardships faced by working class people.

“People living in socially deprived areas need a visit from Nesbitt like they need a hole in the head. Instead of patting people on the head or offering a daytrip to their home, Nesbitt and his Assembly colleagues should instead reverse the devastating cutbacks which they agreed up on the hill. This would really improve the lives of people from the areas to which Mr Nesbitt refers.”

Mr Nesbitt was not available for comment last night.

Editorial, page 24

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