Brighton bomb victim claims McGuinness turned to peace to 'save his skin'

Norman Tebbit attacked Martin McGuinness for his terrorist past

Brighton bomb victim claims McGuinness turned to peace to 'save his skin'

The Grand Hotel in Brighton is severely damaged from an IRA bomb, which killed four people, in 1984 | Image: PA/PA Archive/PA Images

A former British minister, whose wife was left paralysed by the 1984 Brighton bombing, has said he hopes Martin McGuinness is "parked in a particularly hot and unpleasant corner of hell".

Norman and Margaret Tebbit survived the late night attack during the Conservative Party conference at the Grand Brighton Hotel in which five people were killed.

Reacting to the former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister's death, Mr Tebbit, who was seriously injured in the blast, said the world was a "sweeter and cleaner" place.

He was Margaret Thatcher's trade and industry secretary at the time of the bombing.

He asserted the former IRA commander had only turned to peace to "save his own skin".

"He was not only a multi-murderer, he was a coward," he said.

"He knew that the IRA were defeated because British intelligence had penetrated right the way up to the Army Council and that the end was coming.

"He then sought to save his own skin and he knew that it was likely he would be charged before long with several murders which he had personally committed and he decided that the only thing to do was to opt for peace.

"He claimed to be a Roman Catholic. I hope that his beliefs turn out to be true and he'll be parked in a particularly hot and unpleasant corner of hell for the rest of eternity."

He said he could not forgive Mr McGuinness for his terrorist past because "forgiveness requires confession of sins and repentance. There was none of that," he added.

However, Jo Berry, the daughter of MP Anthony Berry who was killed in the Brighton bombing, said Mr McGuinness' legacy was one of "reconciliation and peace-building".

"He showed us how to move forward and showed us a way where former enemies can work together for the peace of the whole," she said.

"What we have now is so much better than what I grew up in. What we have now is peace."

Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine, then 18, was among the victims the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, said the questions of many relatives of IRA victims were always going to remain unanswered after the paramilitary chief turned peacemaker.

"He was very opaque and selective with the truth. With him the truth has died and that's the big problem," she said.

Ms Hambleton, leader of the Justice for the 21 campaign which last year won fresh inquests into the deaths of the pub bombings victims, offered her condolences to Mr McGuinness' family.

But she said victims' families were still fighting for answers about what happened to loved ones, including "The Disappeared" - those abducted and killed by Republican paramilitaries during The Troubles in Northern Ireland.