Category: Archive

Brighton bomber Magee goes free

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — Brighton bomber Patrick Magee who almost wiped out former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her entire cabinet in the Brighton hotel bombing on Oct. 12, 1984 was freed from the Maze Prison outside Belfast on Tuesday.

He had served 14 years of eight life sentences he received, including a judge’s recommendation that he spend a minimum 35 years behind bars. If the judge’s ruling had been followed, Magee would have been 70 before he was freed.

The bombing of the Grand Hotel during the Conservative Party

conference left five people dead and 34 injured.

His early release under the terms of the Good Friday peace agreement led to a chorus of condemnation from British Conservative politicians.

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Party spokesman on Northern Ireland Andrew McKay said that if prisoner releases were stopped it would "concentrate the minds" of the paramilitaries.

"I believe the government has got to stop appeasing the terrorists

and it has got to stand up to them," he said. "In their circles, what they want most, to quote them, is to get the boys out of the Maze. If the boys stop coming out of the Maze, you’d be very surprised at how there could be a change in attitudes in Northern Ireland — less violence and a start to decommissioning."

He said the existing strategy risked ending in disaster with all the

paramilitaries back on the streets, no progress and no weapons handed over. Other outraged Tories back his views.

Magee was sentenced for planting the bomb, exploding it, and five

counts of murder. The eighth life sentence was for a separate conspiracy to bomb 16 targets in London and resorts around Britain.

The court was told that three-and-a-half weeks before the bombing,

Magee had checked into the hotel under a fictitious name. He stayed for three days and left a 30-pound bomb hidden behind a bathroom wall with a 24-day timing device attached.

The bomb went off at 2:54 a.m., when most guests were asleep.

The explosion blew a gaping hole in the facade of the hotel. Collapsing masonry narrowly missed Thatcher, who escaped uninjured.

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