The Irish Puzzle

Gerry Adams talks peace, but does Sinn Fein's silver tongue really mean it?

Explaining away violence is a Gerry Adams specialty. Whenever Irish Republican Army bombs dismember innocent victims, it is Adams, president of the I.R.A.'s political wing, Sinn Fein, who sits down before the microphones and attempts to transform atrocities into regrettable but necessary collateral damage in a just war against British oppression. The calm, reasonable, well- spoken Adams is good at the job.

Last week he was called to an expository task more complicated than usual. In three separate attacks, the I.R.A. had dropped 12 mortar shells into London's Heathrow Airport. Puzzlingly, none of them exploded. The only damage was to British...

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