No Secrets Among Enemies

The search for peace between the I.R.A. and Britain breaks into the open

The message echoed with the melancholic fatalism that pervades much of Irish literature. "It is with total sadness that we have to accept responsibility for the recent action," the statement from the Irish Republican Army said two days after one of its bombs killed two boys, ages 3 and 12, in the English town of Warrington in March. "The last thing we needed at this sensitive time was what has happened."

The time was sensitive indeed. The I.R.A. and the British had just begun a secret exchange of messages aimed at opening peace talks to end the violence that has rent...

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