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Green Wednesdays Frome invites you to a talk with a former IRA bomber and victim’s daughter promoting their peace project

AN Ex-IRA bomber who killed five people 30 years ago in Brighton is to come to Frome to give a talk about a peace project set up with the daughter of a man he killed. 

This year is the 30th Anniversary of the Brighton bombing, in which Belfast-born Pat Magee, a former IRA activist, planted a bomb at a hotel in Brighton on 12th October 1984, that killed five people including Jo Berry’s father, MP Sir Anthony Berry.

Now three decades later, bomber Pat Magee and Frome woman Jo Berry have formed an unlikely partnership to create ‘Building Bridges for Peace’ which promotes peace and conflict resolution throughout the world and Green Wednesdays Frome invites you to a talk with them at Rook Lane Chapel in Frome on Wednesday 8th October. Doors open from 6.30pm. Talk starts at 7.00pm to 8.30pm.

Following the bombing, Pat Magee was given multiple life sentences before being released under the Good Friday Agreement in 1999. Since then, he has been actively involved in peace work including the project with his victim’s daughter Jo Berry.

Jo who now lives in Frome said, “It will be a strange experience to be able to walk to one of our talks from my home as our work has taken us all over the world and I am hoping the audience will gain a lot from what we have to say.”

On their website www.buildingbridgesforpeace.org she explains how her and Pat developed their relationship. She says, “I wanted to meet Pat to put a face to the enemy, and see him as a real human being. At our first meeting I was terrified, but I wanted to acknowledge the courage it had taken him to meet me. We talked with an extraordinary intensity. I shared a lot about my father, while Pat told me some of his story.

“Over the past two and a half years of getting to know Pat, I feel I’ve been recovering some of the humanity I lost when that bomb went off. Pat is also on a journey to recover his humanity. I know that he sometimes finds it hard to live with the knowledge that he cares for the daughter of someone he killed through his terrorist actions. Perhaps more than anything I’ve realised that no matter which side of the conflict you’re on, had we all lived each other’s lives, we could all have done what the other did. In other words, had I come from a Republican background, I could easily have made the same choices Pat made.”

Struggling to forgive himself Pat still stands by the actions he took almost 30 years ago to the day. He said, “Some day I may be able to forgive myself. Although I still stand by my actions, I will always carry the burden that I harmed other human beings. But I’m not seeking forgiveness. If Jo could just understand why someone like me could get involved in the armed struggle then something has been achieved. The point is that Jo set out with that intent in mind – she wanted to know why.

“I decided to meet Jo because, apart from addressing a personal obligation, I felt obligated as a Republican to explain what led someone like me to participate in the action. I told her that I’d got involved in the armed struggle at the age of 19, after witnessing how a small nationalist community was being mistreated by the British. Those people had to respond. For 28 years I was active in the Republican Movement. Even in jail I was still a volunteer. Between Jo and I, the big issue is the use of violence. I can’t claim to have renounced violence, though I don’t believe I’m a violent person and have spoken out against it. I am 100% in favour of the peace process, but I am not a pacifist and I could never say to future generations, anywhere in the world, who felt themselves oppressed, ‘Take it, just lie down and take it’ that wouldn’t be right.”

For more information on Building Bridges for Peace please visit their website: www.buildingbridgesforpeace.org

Tickets £6 payable on the door. Doors open from 6.30pm, talk starts at 7.00pm to 8.30pm and  refreshments will be available.

 

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