#OTD in 1986 – Belfast-born Patrick Joseph Magee, is found guilty of planting the Brighton bomb which killed five people and nearly wiped out most of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet.

Belfast born, Patrick Joseph Magee is found guilty of planting the bomb at the Grand Hotel Brighton which killed five people, but missed its primary target, Margaret Thatcher. The bombing was testament to the ingenuity of the IRA and its bomb makers.

The 30 lb bomb had been planted behind a bath in a room on the sixth floor more than three weeks earlier. Timed to go off on the final day of the conference, it exploded in the early hours of 12 October 1984 killing five prominent Conservatives, including Sir Anthony Berry MP, and injuring 34.

The bomb destroyed a bathroom that Margaret Thatcher had been in just a few minutes previously.

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. Magee was charged with the bombing when forensic officers found his palm print on a hotel registration card following the blast.

Sentenced to a minimum 35 years in jail, he was released from prison in 1999 as part of the Good Friday Agreement early release program. Magee is one of many on both sides of the conflict whose release raises differing emotions.

In one of the more compelling twists associated with the Northern Ireland troubles, Magee has worked diligently since his release to ease tensions in Northern Ireland and has developed a strong working relationship with Jo Berry, daughter of one of the people Magee killed.

Image |: Grand Hotel Brighton after bombing | Credit: Victor Patterson

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