Patrick Magee (Irish republican)

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Patrick Joseph Magee (born 1951[1]) is a former Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteer, best known for planting a bomb in the Brighton's Grand Hotel targeting Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet, which killed two men and three women. He is sometimes referred to as the "Brighton bomber".

Early life and IRA career

Patrick Magee was born in Belfast but moved with his family to Norwich when he was four years old. He returned to Belfast at the age of 20 in 1971 and later joined the Provisional IRA.[2]

In June 1973, he was interned during Operation Demetrius. He was released in November 1975.

Brighton hotel bombing

The plot to bomb the Grand Hotel had started in 1981 as an act of revenge for the stance Thatcher had taken over the 1981 Irish hunger strike.[3]

Magee had stayed in the hotel under the false name of Roy Walsh four weeks previously, during the weekend of 14–17 September 1984. He planted the bomb, with a long-delay timer, in the bathroom wall of his room, number 629.[4] The bomb exploded at 2:54 a.m. on 12 October 1984, killing five people and injuring 34.[5] He was arrested in the Queen's Park area of Glasgow on 22 June 1985 with other members of an active service unit, including Martina Anderson, while planning other bombings. At his trial in September 1986 he received eight life sentences, with the judge branding him "a man of exceptional cruelty and inhumanity."[2][6] While in prison, he completed a PhD examining the representation of Irish republicans in "Troubles" fiction. In August 1997, he married for a second time.

After prison

Magee was released from prison in 1999, having served 14 years in prison, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Originally he was sentenced to eight life sentences and a minimum tariff of 35 years[7] Jack Straw, the then Home Secretary, attempted to block Magee's release, but this was overturned by the High Court.[8]

He continues to defend his role in the blast, but he has expressed remorse for the loss of innocent lives.[9] One of the victims of the bombing was Sir Anthony Berry, whose daughter Jo Berry publicly met Magee in November 2000 in an effort at achieving reconciliation. They have met publicly on more than one hundred occasions since that date.

Harvey Thomas, a senior adviser to Thatcher who survived the bombing, forgave Magee in 1998. Thomas has since developed a friendship with Magee, including hosting him in his own home. Thomas cited his Christian faith as the reason why he felt compelled to forgive.[10][11] Norman Tebbit, whose wife was paraylsed in the Brighton Bomb, has asserted he could only forgive Magee if he went to the police and provided them with the names of anyone else who was responsible for the bombing. He has argued that giving up violence is insufficient, stating: "If Dr. Shipman had announced he was not going to murder any more of his patients, I don't think we would have felt that was a case for going 'good old Shipman' and giving him a slap on the back and a special award from the BMA."[12]


  • Patrick Magee, Gangsters or Guerrillas? Representations of Irish Republicans in 'Troubles Fiction' (2001) ISBN 1-900960-14-1


  1. "Brighton bomb: Filming forgiveness". BBC News. 13 December 2001. Retrieved 2007-04-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Patrick Magee: The IRA Brighton bomber". BBC News. 22 June 1999. Retrieved 2007-04-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Gerard Gilbert (10 May 2003). "Staying in: The night they bombed the Grand". The Independent. Retrieved 2007-04-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  4. Gareth Parry (10 June 1986). "Patrick Magee convicted of IRA terrorist attack". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-04-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "1984: Tory Cabinet in Brighton bomb blast". BBC News. 12 October 1984. Retrieved 2007-04-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Taylor, Peter (2001). Brits. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 157–159. ISBN 0-7475-5806-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Outrage as Brighton bomber freed". BBC News. 22 June 1999. Retrieved 2007-04-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Brighton bomber's regrets". BBC News. 11 October 2002. Retrieved 2007-04-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Brighton bomb victim: Why I forgive". BBC News. 8 August 2001. Retrieved 2013-03-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Love Thy Enemy". Huffington Post. 4 June 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links