Jo Berry and Patrick Magee join us to talk about forgiveness as a supreme act of imagination.
Dr Patrick Magee was released from prison in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Whilst in prison he completed a PhD examining the representation of Irish Republicans in ‘Troubles’ fiction. For 27 years he was a committed member of the IRA and remains a Republican. In November 2000 he agreed to meet Jo Berry, whose father had been killed along with four others in the IRA’s attack on the Grand Hotel, Brighton in 1984. Since then they have met on more than 200 occasions, in the UK, the North of Ireland and overseas. Although Pat carries the burden of knowing he had caused Jo profound hurt, they continue to explore their common humanity, recognising that war robs combatants of what it is to be human, of an essential capacity to empathise and to see the world through the eyes of others.
Jo Berry has founded a charity, ‘Building Bridges for Peace’ which works to resolve conflict around the world. Sixteen years after her father was killed by an IRA bomb, Jo first met with the man responsible, Pat Magee. This initial three-hour meeting led their speaking on over a hundred and fifty occasions, on a shared platform, to bring a message of understanding and peace. Jo advocates that empathy is the biggest weapon we have to end conflict. With political, religious and racial divides deepening as global and local events unfold, her words offer a message of hope and encourage us all to see the humanity in others.
Jo is frequently invited to address international conferences and seminars on themes of humanitarian aid, conflict resolution and human rights. She is a trained facilitator in storytelling, conflict transformation and restorative justice. As a successful facilitator she has designed workshop for young people which engage them and creates a safe place for them be empowered and become positive change makers. Her workshops are also part of Countering Violent Extremism. Jo is currently writing her book and is a visiting fellow with the University of Nottingham Research Priority Area in Rights and Justice.