Former IRA commander and current Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness has been invited to the Conservative Party conference this year, despite deep hostility towards the man from sections of the party.

Feelings are likely to be running particularly high for those Conservatives who attended the conference in 1984 when the IRA bombed the Grand Hotel in Brighton at which many senior Conservatives were staying, including then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, at the time.

The bomb killed five people and injured more than thirty others, some of them seriously. One of those who survived the bomb, despite being trapped under a pile of rubble for a number of hours was Norman Tebbit, then President of the Board of Trade.

While Mr (now Lord) Tebbit recovered from his injuries his wife was left permanently disabled, ultimately leading him to a decision to quit frontline politics in the late 1980's so that he could care for his wife.

His departure from the political scene helped pave the way for the toppling of Margaret Thatcher as he was a staunch supporter of the Prime Minster and would likely have proved a formidable obstacle to those plotters who ultimately removed her.

Mr McGuinness has been invited to speak at a fringe event at the autumn conference in Birmingham by a non-profit organisation called Champ, which promotes dialogue. The unionist First Minster Peter Robinson has also been invited.

Champ also invited Mr McGuinness to the Labour Party conference last year, where he spoke at an event in the very hotel which his organisation bombed in 1984.

Lord Tebbit said he was appalled that Mr McGuinness had gone to the Grand Hotel and said he had probably gone "to have a look around to see why the plot failed".

Champ, which has existed since 2002, said that its event is always held at the conference of the party of government, which until now has always been the Labour Party.