But since the IRA announced a ceasefire in August 1994, and the loyalist paramilitary groups followed suit two months later, all that has taken second place to one immediate and overriding issue: will the peace last?
The loyalists have taken to peace with unexpected enthusiasm, although their illegal organisations still exist, and they show no sign of wanting a return to war.
Attention is focused on Sinn Fein and the IRA, where there are real and sometimes ominous signs of frustration. The republicans' central demand is entry into talks with the British and Irish governments and other parties.
However, the Government's stipulation on IRA arms de-commissioning has led to months of stalemate. This may be on the point of resolution, for tomorrow a three-man international commission is to publish its report. .Reuse content