BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 11:26 GMT
Looking the Brighton bomber in the eye
Jo Tuffnell and Patrick Magee
Across the divide: Jo Tuffnell and Patrick Magee
Would you meet the killer of a loved one? For some, like the Omagh families, it isn't even an option until the bombers are caught. Jo Tuffnell, whose father died in the 1984 Brighton bombing, has spent the past year meeting the former IRA man behind the attack.

Here, she tells of her steps towards reconciliation in our weekly Real Time series. Her filmed encounters with Patrick Magee will be shown in the UK on BBC TWO on Thursday at 2100GMT.

My father, Sir Anthony Berry, was one of five people killed in the Brighton bomb attack.

Scene at hotel
The Grand Hotel after the bombing
The bomb completely changed me. It suddenly felt that this was what real life was about; that this was how a lot of people lived their lives. It felt like I'd arrived in an awful way, a violent way.

Straight away I felt part of the Northern Ireland conflict. And I knew that I wanted to get as much that was positive out of it as possible.

Before my father died, I was already committed to peace but I was more into meditating than action. That seemed incredibly irrelevant when the bomb went off. Those sides have now integrated in me, the inner and the outer.

Face of an enemy

Patrick Magee, the only bomber convicted of the attack, was released from prison in 1999.

Magee was released under the terms of the Good Friday agreement
Patrick Magee on his release from prison
It was always his choice whether to meet me or not, and I honestly didn't think he'd agree to it. I'd talked to other ex-prisoners who said he probably wouldn't - I'd been led to expect that he'd have no need to meet.

So I was very surprised when he agreed. It is unusual after all, to meet the daughter of the man you killed.

We met at his friend's house, a woman who runs a reconciliation charity called Seeds of Hope. She had brought us together. We just started talking straight away and didn't stop for three hours.


My seven-year-old daughter got very angry when she found out where I was going

That was November a year ago, and since then we've met probably eight times. Sometimes we've spent the weekend together, or been to victims' groups.

On 8 September - just three days before the World Trade Center attack - we attended a peace conference together and shared a platform. It was very powerful. Not so much what we said, but the fact that we were listening to each other. If anything, 11 September has strengthened my commitment to reconciling with him.

'Is it a betrayal?'

My seven-year-old daughter got very angry when she found out I was going to meet the man who had killed grandpa. She wanted to come too. When I wouldn't let her, she asked me to tell Patrick that he's a bad man. She later asked if he was sorry. When I said yes, she asked, 'Does that mean grandpa can come back now?'


Meeting Patrick has put a human face on this conflict

There is a part of me that says 'you shouldn't be talking to the man who killed your father'. That voice is still there, the struggle between the side that wants to talk about reconciliation and the side that feels it's a betrayal.

Yet meeting Patrick has put a human face on this conflict. I now see men like him as people with their own struggles, no longer as a faceless enemy, and that helps me. I think it's been quite a struggle for Patrick to see me and my dad as real people rather than as justified targets.

I'm not saying anyone else has to do this, but for me it's important to see the humanity in my enemy. And I agreed to do the BBC documentary because of my commitment to ending this cycle I've been caught up in.


Real Time gives people a chance to tell their own stories in their own words. If you've got something to say, click here.



E-MAIL US
See also:

13 Dec 01 | Entertainment
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes