A SOLEMN minute’s silence was held in Brighton yesterday to mark the 30th anniversary of the bomb that ripped through the Grand Hotel, killing five people and seriously injuring 34 others.
The intended target of the IRA terrorist attack was the prime minister Margaret Thatcher and her Tory Cabinet, who were staying there during the Conservative Party conference.
The flag flew at half mast over the hotel as staff and members of the public gathered in the lobby for a minute’s silence to remember the injured and the dead.
The brief ceremony took place in front of a plaque marking the bomb’s 25th anniversary, which was unveiled by former Tory minister Lord Tebbit.
The Grand’s general manager, Andrew Mosely, said: “I said a few words to pause and reflect and remember the five people who were killed and 34 injured, the guests at the hotel, members of the community, the emergency services and so many other people who were affected by what happened that night.’’ Patrick Magee, who planted the deadly device, was due to return to the city last night to take part in a panel discussion following a screening of documentary Beyond Right & Wrong in nearby 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.
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 Good Friday Agreement, having served 13 years for the crime.
Ms Berry believes it is important Magee attended last night’s documentary screening.
She said: “For me, inviting Pat to be there 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.”
She added: “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.”
Magee declined to speak to the press ahead of last night’s event.
Lord Tebbit, writing in a Sunday newspaper, said he could not forgive the bomber.