Brighton bomber hoping for understanding not forgiveness

Brighton bomber hoping for understanding not forgiveness

BRIGHTON bomber Patrick Magee claimed he does not seek forgiveness from the victims of the atrocity as the 30 year anniversary of the attack was marked over the weekend.

The former IRA operative - who planted the bomb which killed five people at the Grand Hotel in 1984 – returned to the seaside town yesterday to attend a series of peace and reconciliation events held to commemorate the date.

While there he responded to a statement made by Lord Tebbit - whose wife was left paralysed by the attack - claiming he would never forgive the bomber, who he descried as a ‘creature’.

“Everybody is at different stages of a journey, but this is where I am at and I am moving forward,” Magee said.

“I daresay that there are people out there who can never forgive, the pain is so great that they can’t see beyond it, but there are others who can deal with their pain and move beyond it.”

He added: “I am not going to point fingers or say that people should do more to move on, I can’t do that as it’s a very personal visceral feeling.

“But I would hope, I mean, the best I can hope for is understanding. I have never sought forgiveness.”

Magee was among guests taking part in a panel discussion at the Old Market Theatre last night, where he sat alongside Jo Berry, the daughter of Sir Anthony Berry MP, who was killed in the bombing.

Over the past 14 years the pair have worked together sharing peace and reconciliation platforms across the globe, under Berry’s charity Building Bridges for Peace.

But as they discussed that journey publicly, following a screening of the film Beyond Right and Wrong, which documents their unconventional relationship, Magee refused to apologise for his devastating contribution to the Troubles, nor condemn the IRA campaign in Britain.

“We have a peace process borne out of terrible decades of atrocities from all sides, a lot of them instigated by people in power who abused their power,” he said.

“I would love that process now to reach a position where the truth could be gathered and everybody would feel free to open up and tell the truth, but that’s not going to work if the finger is constantly pointed at those who had the least power to defend themselves and make an account for their actions.”

He added: “It has to include those who had the power, the real power, who had options but didn’t use them and resorted to violence in the first instance - our violence came from a position of powerlessness.”

Berry, who was 27 when her father was killed, claims that over the years she has achieved an understanding of what Magee did.

“I first wanted to meet Pat because I didn’t want him as an enemy,” she explained.

“I didn’t want anyone in the world to be my enemy; I wanted to see his humanity. I was curious as to who he really was behind the label – to me there is a very big difference between who he is and what he did.”

She added: “It wasn’t about forgiveness; it was about empathy and reaching a place in me where I knew, had I lived his life, I may have made the same choices. I may not have, I don’t know. It’s about seeing that I was capable of hurting other people as well and that the only person I can change is myself.”

And despite not seeking forgiveness, Magee seemingly continues to take platforms with Berry in the hope of furthering that understanding. “I killed Jo’s father,” he said.

“I am sitting here in Brighton in front of all these people, and it’s challenging being here for me. But I am not here seeking forgiveness; I am here because at an early stage of my life I made conscious decisions that had a terrible impact on others, close and far. But I made that decision after much thought, so why would I seek forgiveness for that?”

He added: “What I am trying to achieve is understanding.”

As the only person convicted for the Brighton attack, which took place on October 12, 1984, Magee was sentenced to multiple life sentences for his actions.

He was controversially released from the Maze Prison in Belfast in 1999, under the Good Friday Agreement, having served just 14 years.