A Sudden Rush of Peace

After 25 years of civil strife, the I.R.A. ignites hopes for peace by agreeing to lay down its arms

According to an old story, the pilot of an airliner flying into Belfast once advised his passengers to turn their watches back to local time -- 1690. The Irish on board surely savored this morsel of black humor. But last week, as the sorrows of centuries marched in review before Irish eyes, the gallows wit gave way to the fugitive elixir of hope. In Northern Ireland, 25 years of civil strife punctuated by acts of mayhem seemed nearer than ever to expiring, when one side in the struggle agreed to lay down its arms.

In announcing "a complete cessation of military...

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