Brighton bomber to meet with victim's family in Parliament today

By staff writers
October 13, 2009

Parliament will be the venue today for a ground-breaking event on forgiveness, 25 years after the Provisional IRA bombed a Brighton hotel during the Conservative Party conference.

People on both sides of the incident will come together, including Patrick Magee, a former IRA member jailed for planting the bomb, who will speak alongside Jo Berry, whose father, Tory MP Anthony Berry, was killed in the blast.

The event is being 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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