Sorry for All That

He is not known for remorse. P. O'Neill exists only as a nom de guerre, but as the signature on every terse statement issued by the Irish Republican Army over decades of conflict, his name is recognized and feared across Ireland. Occasionally O'Neill has admitted "regret" over unintended deaths. Mainly he has justified attacks and threatened others.

Until last week, when O'Neill suddenly said sorry. In a brief, unexpected declaration, the I.R.A. issued a blanket apology for the more than 600 civilians it killed and the thousands more it injured battling British rule since 1969. In a passage...

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