Category: Archive

Magee: ’84 Brighton bombing gave IRA leverage for talks

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST — Brighton bomber Patrick Magee says the failure of his IRA mission to wipe out the British cabinet in 1984 may, ironically, have paved the way for the present peace process, which he emphatically supports.

Killing the top layer of the Conservative Party at its conference in Brighton, England, would have made it virtually impossible for the IRA to discuss peace with the British government, he said in a first interview since his early release last year.

"The awareness that it [the bombing] could have been worse actually gave the IRA more leverage than if they had killed her," said Magee, who is believed to have been the architect of the IRA bomb attack in which five people were killed.

"If half of the government had been killed, it might have been impossible, for a generation, for the British establishment to come to terms with us," he said in an interview with the Sunday Business Post.

Questioned about the suffering of the victims, including the wife of the Conservative Party secretary, Lord Norman Tebbit, who was paralyzed, Magee said he did not want to cause them more pain by discussing the operation. He also asked if "the Tory classes … never think that one day their turn might come?"

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Magee, 49, who served 14 years of a life sentence, said that the Brighton bomb had created the conditions for peace and that dissident IRA members had "mistaken and misunderstood" what the republican movement was achieving.

"I have argued that the military campaign was necessary and, equally, now I would argue that it is no longer necessary," Magee said, adding that it was "hugely regrettable" that the IRA had killed people in Brighton, "but I believe that the actions were justified."

Magee said the bomb "helped convince people that the war was winnable in England."

"By winnable, I mean achieving the necessary level of political leverage and in my mind there is no doubt that the peace process is that political leverage," he said. "Until the Brighton attack, we were not being taken seriously by the British political establishment. We were trapped in the ‘acceptable level of violence strategy’ and it is important that the only way we could have lost this war was to be trapped in indefinitely fighting it."

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