Patrick Joseph Magee of Belfast is found guilty on June 10, 1986, of planting a bomb at the Grand Brighton Hotel in 1984 which kills five people but misses its primary target, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The bombing is testament to the ingenuity of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its bomb makers.
The 30-pound bomb is planted behind a bath in a room on the sixth floor more than three weeks prior to the Prime Minister’s visit. Timed to go off on the final day of the conference, it explodes in the early morning hours of October 12, 1984 and nearly wipes out most of Thatcher’s cabinet, killing five prominent Conservatives and injuring thirty-four.
The bomb destroys a bathroom that Mrs. Thatcher had been in just a few minutes earlier.
Magee stays in the hotel four weeks previously under the false name of Roy Walsh, during the weekend of September 14-17, 1984. He plants the bomb, which includes a long-delay timer, in the bathroom wall of his room, number 629. Magee becomes the primary suspect when forensic officers find his palm print on a hotel registration card following the blast.
Sentenced to a minimum 35 years in jail, he is 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 works diligently since his release to ease tensions in Northern Ireland and develops a strong working relationship with Jo Berry, daughter of Sir Anthony Berry MP who was killed in the Grand Brighton Hotel blast. They first meet publicly in November 2000 in an effort at achieving reconciliation. They have met publicly on more than one hundred occasions since that date.