Parliament hosts Forgiveness Project, 25 years after Brighton bomb

By staff writers
October 6, 2009

Twenty-five years after the Provisional IRA bombed a Brighton hotel during the Conservative Party conference, Parliament is to host a ground-breaking event on forgiveness, with talks from people on both sides of the incident.

Patrick Magee, a former IRA member jailed for planting the bomb, will speak alongside Jo Berry, whose father, Tory MP Anthony Berry, was killed in the blast.

The event, which is planned for 13 October, is run by the Forgiveness Project and hosted by the All Party Group on Conflict Issues. It aims “to open up a dialogue about forgiveness and promote understanding through awareness, education and inspiration”.

Magee was released from jail in 1999 under the Good Friday Agreement. He met Berry the following year and they have since worked together on issues of peace and forgiveness, speaking at meetings in Britain, Ireland and beyond. This is the first time they will speak together in Parliament.

“For both of us, it's not always easy” explained Magee, "But the spur to continue comes from the feedback we get.”

Magee's invitation was criticised by Norman Tebbit, whose wife was severely injured in the bombing. “I really cannot see why he should be invited to talk in the House of Commons” he said.

However, the event's organisers emphasise that they understand that forgiveness is a difficult and challenging process.

“If it were easy to forgive, we would all do it” explained Conservative MP Gary Streeter, chair of the All-Party Group on Conflict Issues, “It is not easy. That is why we are hosting this event”.

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