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Monday, 28 August, 2000, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
Brighton bomb 'led to peace'
Patrick Magee
Magee was released under the Good Friday Agreement
Brighton bomber Patrick Magee says his failure to kill former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made it possible for future peace talks to take place, it has been reported.

Magee attempted to kill Baroness Thatcher and her cabinet in an attack during the party's annual conference in 1984.

The IRA man was given eight life sentences for the bombing, but was released 14 months ago under the Good Friday peace agreement.

Baroness Thatcher
Baroness Thatcher was uninjured in the blast
He is reported as saying the blast paved the way for peace in the Dublin-based Sunday Business Post.

"The awareness that it could have been worse actually gave the IRA more leverage than if they had killed Mrs Thatcher," he is quoted as saying.

"In fact, if half of the British Government had been killed it might have been impossible for a generation for the British establishment to come to terms with us."

The bomb ripped through the Grand Hotel, killing five people and injuring dozens of others.

Among them was Lord Tebbit's wife Margaret, who was left paralysed for life.

'Deep regret'

Magee reportedly said that he regrets the deaths and often thinks of his victims.

"I deeply regret that anybody had to lose their lives, but at the time did the Tory ruling class expect to remain immune from what their frontline troops were doing to us?" he is reported as saying.

"After Brighton, anything was possible and the British for the first time began to look very differently at us."

Magee, who backs the current peace process, reportedly said a series of attacks since the peace accord, blamed on dissident republican guerrillas, were regrettable.

The Brighton Grand
The Brighton Grand suffered extensive damage in the blast
He added that the rebels had misunderstood what the peace negotiations had achieved.

"I have argued that a military campaign was necessary, and equally now I would argue that it is no longer necessary. It is as simple as that," quotes the newspaper.

His comments have provoked outrage within the Conservative Party.

Party chairman Michael Ancram, was in the hotel when the bomb went off.

He told The Guardian: "The murderous attack was nothing more than a cowardly terrorist action which added to the determination of the British Government to see terrorism defeated.

"Mr Magee's comments add insult to the murder of innocent civilians and should be roundly condemned."

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22 Jun 99 | UK Politics
Outrage as Brighton bomber freed
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