Brighton bomber to meet victim's daughter

04/10/2004 - 12:48:46

Brighton bomber Patrick Magee is to return to the city for the first time to talk to the daughter of one of the victims of the 1984 blast.

The convicted IRA terrorist will take part in a public question and answer session with the daughter of Enfield Tory MP Anthony Berry on the 20th anniversary of the atrocity.

Magee has been in contact with Jo Berry since 1999, when he was controversially released from multiple life sentences under the Good Friday Agreement.

But the invitation-only event at a secret location in Brighton on October 12 will be the first time the pair have spoken in public.

Brighton journalist and broadcaster Simon Fanshawe will interview Magee about the bombing, starting from when he checked into room 629 of the Grand Hotel on September 14, 1984, to plant the device that killed five people and injured 34.

Magee will discuss his desire to seek reconciliation for his bid to wipe out the British cabinet with the deadly bomb placed under a bath six weeks before it went off.

Mr Fanshawe said today: “Patrick is not coming to Brighton to make any political statements. He is interested in pursuing this theme of reconciliation.

“It’s the first time he has been back to Brighton, and that is why he has been very careful to choose the right context in which to return.”

A selected audience of 60 people will include those working in reconciliation schemes, such as arranging for the victims of violence to meet their attackers.

“This event is an attempt to bring some good out of something bad, to show there is another way to the future,” Mr Fanshawe said.

Four years after meeting Magee, Ms Berry joined with him to establish Causeway, an organisation which aims to help people address unresolved pain and grief caused by the Northern Ireland conflict.

Ms Berry has revealed that she received a death threat for meeting Magee, and allegations that she had betrayed her father and her country.

She told the Brighton Evening Argus: “I’ve realised that, no matter which side of the conflict you’re on, had we all lived each other’s lives, we could all have done what the other did. Had I come from a republican background, I could easily have made the same choices Pat made.”

Mr Fanshawe echoed Ms Berry’s words, saying her choice to meet Magee in public was “brave”.

He said: “She feels very strongly that doing this is not betraying her father, and would say that her father was interested in finding peace. This is not a choice everyone would make, but it is the choice these people have made.”

Magee’s visit has been organised as part of a Jewish film festival by the Forgiveness Project, described on its website as a group which “aims to tell the quieter, less publicised stories of reconciliation. The stories of people who have discovered that the only way to move on in life is to lay aside hatred and blame”.

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