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'You planted the bomb that killed my dad, but who are you?'

An incredible friendship grew from the aftermath of the Brighton bombing.
Jan 25th 2015, 7:30 AM 18,030 59

Source: British Pathé/YouTube

A WOMAN WHOSE father was killed in the Brighton bombing has spoken about her emotional first meeting with the man responsible.

The British government’s cabinet, including Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was the target of the IRA attack, which claimed the lives of five people and injured 31.

Unscathed by the bombing, Thatcher spoke to media soon afterwards, saying: “Life must go on, as usual.”

Declassified state papers, released just this year, revealed the incident almost entirely derailed the peace process in the 1980s.

However, a remarkable friendship arose from this event.

Jo Berry, whose father was a Tory MP killed in the blast, now travels to conflict zones with Pat Magee, the man who planted the bomb, to share their story of reconciliation.

photo Miriam O'Callaghan with Pat Magee and Jo Berry. Source: RTÉ

In the pair’s first Irish radio interview, to be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1′s Sunday with Miriam this morning, Berry speaks about the first time she met Magee.

“I was so curious. I remember looking at you Pat and thinking ‘you planted the bomb that killed my Dad, but who are you? Who are you other than that?’”, she said.

Berry said the initial meeting saw Magee focus on the political justification behind the attack, before eventually looking to find out more about the lasting effect it had on her.

“The conversation was very different after that,” she continued, “I’d no idea that we’d still be meeting together all these years later.”

It was the beginning of Pat seeing my Dad as a human being… I thanked Pat and he said ‘I’m really sorry I killed your father’ – and it was said with a lot of feeling.

Magee has said he carries a ‘heavy burden’ from the attack.

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“I do regret the loss of life and all those injured. And how could you not regret somebody spending the rest of their life in a wheelchair because of your actions?”

This refers to the injuries suffered by the wife of cabinet minister Norman Tebbit, who were both in the hotel at the time.

Earlier this year, Tebbit reiterated his refusal to forgive Magee for the attack.

Magee said his meeting with Jo Berry changed his view of what happened completely:

“I went along wearing the political hat – the political obligation to explain,” he said, “but then in the presence of a person you’ve really hurt and that person listening to me, sharing things about her father… I suddenly began to get an impression of this guy I had killed whereas before none of that had existed.

He was just this cypher, the Tory, the enemy, and I’m seeing this very smart, very good woman – and a lot of the goodness I perceived in her must have come from her father, and I killed this guy.

The interview will be broadcast this morning at 10am on RTÉ Radio 1.

Read: 30 years ago tonight, the IRA tried to murder Margaret Thatcher >

More: ‘It’s not something that defines me’ – Health Minister Leo Varadkar on being gay >

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Nicky Ryan

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