Peace is nowhere a more fragile or elusive Grail than in Northern Ireland, where the mood of the warring Catholic and Protestant communities can swing violently. But last week, for a while at least, peace seemed a bit closer, as one of the two rival wings of the Irish Republican Army drew back from the brink of what had seemed an incipient civil war. In a dramatic policy announcement, the Marxist-leaning Official wing of the I.R.A. said that "in view of the growing danger of sectarian conflict," it was suspending "all military...

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