Hope Amid the Rubble

Rumors of a cease-fire raise expectations of a settlement that will finally bring peace to Ulster

"Trust had gone out of the land," writes Irish novelist Edna O'Brien, "and brother no longer gasped at the bloodshed of brother." For the past 25 years, since the "troubles" began in the North, sectarian killings bore bloody testimony to the truth of that verdict. Now, following months of secret negotiations, there appears a glimmer of hope that peace may not be far off.

Within weeks, perhaps days, the Irish Republican Army is expected to declare a cease-fire in its war to oust Britain from Northern Ireland and unite the troubled island. Depending on the duration and effectiveness of that armistice,...