On This Day in History…

A panorama of the Grand Hotel, Brighton.

Thirty-one years ago today, at 2:54am a bomb ripped through The Grand Hotel in Brighton, leaving five people dead and a further thirty-one injured. The Provisional IRA were responsible for the attack. Their aim was to kill Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, though they ultimately failed in what they hoped to achieve.

The Prime Minister was in Brighton for the Conservative Annual Party Conference, and was still up working on her speech when the bomb went off. One of the reasons, it was reported at the time, that many more people were not killed was because of the structure of the old Victorian building. It was also reported that Marks and Spencers were persuaded to open early so those who had lost their clothes in the wreckage could buy new ones. The Prime Minister insisted the conference go on as usual, and after her speech went straight to the hospital to visit those who were injured. Patrick Magee was found guilty of planting the bomb, after checking into the hotel under the name of Roy Walsh, and was sentenced to thirty-five years in prison, but was released after fourteen as part of the Good Friday Agreement. Though it was business as usual for Margaret Thatcher,

“One of the reasons, it was reported at the time, that many more people were not killed was because of the structure of the old Victorian building. It was also reported that Marks and Spencers were persuaded to open early so those who had lost their clothes in the wreckage could buy new ones.”

papers that were released last year showed that she had to cancel her hair appointment the morning of the bombing, but wrote to the owners apologising for the cancellation herself, but not before reassuring the owners that she was very pleased with the way they had cut her hair earlier that week. Last year marked the thirtieth anniversary of the bombing, and Patrick Magee and Jo Berry, the daughter of one of the victims, appeared alongside each other as part of a peace program Jo founded. They travel around community centres, universities and religious groups giving talks on conflict resolution.

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holly@bjournal.co

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