Sinn Fein Chooses Peace

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When Gerry Adams signed on to the Northern Ireland peace deal at Easter, cynics muttered darkly about the fate of Michael Collins -- the Irish Republican leader whose compromise with London during the '20s earned him a bullet from his own people. But Adams yesterday persuaded 331 out of 350 delegates at Sinn Fein's make-or-break conference on the issue to back him up. While some Republican "hard men" underlined their intention to fight on by launching mortar attacks on police even as the Dublin conference deliberated, plenty of them -- including some convicted bombers freed temporarily to attend the conference -- opted for the peaceful road.

Republican delegates used militant language to promote acceptance of the agreement -- like their Unionist counterparts, they're selling it as a means of attaining what they've always wanted. And as in the Unionist camp, Republican extremists will point to the other side's endorsement as good enough reason to say no. But for a movement in which political credentials have often been built with semtex, the extent of support for Adams' course is nothing short of remarkable.