Tuesday 23 January 2018

Anglo-Irish talks almost stalled after deadly blast struck Tory conference

Brighton bombing

The aftermath of the bombing at the Grand Hotel, Brighton, in 1984 which killed five people.
The aftermath of the bombing at the Grand Hotel, Brighton, in 1984 which killed five people.

Shane Hickey

THE 1984 IRA Brighton bombing, which killed five people at the Conservative party conference, almost stopped talks between Britain and Ireland amid fears the blast would be the first of a series.

Prime minister Margaret Thatcher told her aides in the days following the bombing that talks between the two countries aimed at creating closer relations would be hampered as she did not want to be seen to be "bombed into making concessions".

The bomb, which was planted with a long-timer taken from a video recorder, exploded in the early hours of October 12 during the conference at the Grand Hotel in Brighton.

Five people were killed and 31 were injured in the IRA attack which was aimed at crippling the British government by wiping out the cabinet. Mrs Thatcher narrowly escaped injury.

In a file released yesterday dealing with the on-going talks between Robert Armstrong on the British side and Irish civil servant Dermot Nally in advance of the Anglo-Irish summit in November 1984, Mrs Thatcher wrote: "The events of Thursday night at Brighton mean that we must go very slow on these talks if not stop them. It could look as if we were bombed into making concessions to the Republic."

Armstrong and Nally had been part of a steering committee on Anglo-Irish relations which was set up in 1981.

Patrick Magee was eventually arrested and found guilty of five counts of murder, planting the bomb and detonating it. He was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Irish Independent

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