Brighton to mark 30th anniversary of Grand Hotel bomb

IRA attack in 1984 targeted prime minister Margaret Thatcher and Tory cabinet

The Grand Hotel Brighton, after it was severely damaged by the IRA bomb in 1984. The 30th anniversary of the Brighton bombing will be marked by peace campaigners, political activists and academic scholars. Photograph: PA Wire

The Grand Hotel Brighton, after it was severely damaged by the IRA bomb in 1984. The 30th anniversary of the Brighton bombing will be marked by peace campaigners, political activists and academic scholars. Photograph: PA Wire

 

A number of commemorative events will be held in Brighton today to mark the 30th anniversary of the bomb which ripped through The Grand Hotel killing five people and seriously injuring 34 others.

The intended target of the IRA terrorist attack was prime minister Margaret Thatcher and her Tory Cabinet, who were staying at the hotel during the Conservative Party conference.

Patrick Magee, who planted the deadly device, will return to the city tonight to take part in a panel discussion following a screening of documentary Beyond Right & Wrong at The Old Market in Hove.

The programme follows the story of Jo Berry, whose father Sir Anthony Berry was killed in the explosion, and her reconciliatory journey with Magee.

The Grand also marked the anniversary with a minute’s silence at noon.

Staff at the hotel gathered around a plaque in the lobby which was unveiled by former Tory minister Lord Tebbit on the 25th anniversary of the bombing.

The flag on the roof of the hotel will be flown at half mast for the whole day and the flags on the front of the building will be taken down as a mark of respect to all those who lost their lives and were injured during the bombing.

General manager Andrew Mosley said: “It is an opportunity to remind the staff and ourselves of what happened 30 years ago on that day.

“To reflect on what it must have been like for our colleagues at the time and to remember those who lost their lives, those who were injured, the community in Brighton that was so badly affected, and members of the emergency services who were called to the blast.

“The message we want to send above all else is that we have not forgotten what happened here 30 years ago.”

Magee was handed eight life sentences at the Old Bailey in 1986, with a recommendation he serve a minimum of 35 years.

He was released in 1999 under the Belfast Agreement having served 13 years for the crime.

Ms Berry believes it is important Magee attends tonight’s documentary screening.

She said: ”For me, inviting Pat to be there (today) is to show a living example of reconciliation and the power of empathy. It is really important to have him there to demonstrate that.

“Yes, some people will be upset but I think that for peace sometimes you have to take these risks.”

Magee has declined to give press interviews ahead of the 30th anniversary of the bombing.

Ms Berry believes he has changed considerably.

“When he planted the bomb he wasn’t seeing human beings. It was a strategy and now he sees human beings and wonderful human beings. It has been about him getting his humanity back. That has changed him, definitely.

“He regards me as a friend. He knows that my dad was a wonderful human being and he knows that some of the qualities I have came from my father and that weighs heavily on him.”