... but bravely fought off this challenge to its supreme role as the champions of argument for the sate of argument.
Does either side (however you choose to define it) actually want peace? They both (indeed all of them - because there are many more than two) say they do. But is it true? For as long as I can recall I have thought the Rev Ian Paisley was intransigent and unlikely ever to agree to peaceful co-existence with those who desire reunification with the Republic of Ireland. But his statement that all major problems were resolved, except for photographic evidence of the de-commissioning of weapons held by the IRA and its factions, seems at the same time both hopeful and reasonable. Gerry Adams, however, considers such a requirement to be a 'deliberate humiliation' relaying, he says, the views of the Irish Republican Army. The linked article above seems to confirm this.
I think that if peace with co-existence between the two major strands of opinion was really the desired outcome, a more productive route for the IRA and Sinn Fein to take would have been to have called Paisley's bluff by agreeing to provide the photographic evidence he has stated will satisfy him, and to observe whether he would, in practice, follow through on a power-sharing NI Executive.
Personally I don't much care whether NI remains a part of the UK or whether it becomes a part of the Republic of Ireland, or even if it becomes a completely separate political entity. What I would like, though, is for NI's inhabitants (on both sides) to agree that either they must agree to live together or that one side will have to 'vacate the premises' to let the other get on with it. As I doubt the latter is a realistic option (and the 'ethnic cleansing' of one side or the other is quite obviously not an option that could be countenanced by the British or Irish governments, or the EU, the UN or the US), then living together seems to be what they are going to be left with.
To both sides I say: Enough already! Decide like grown-ups what you want to do, then do it! I think this is probably the point of Austen Mitchell's proposal that he be the author of a photographic archive to document the de-commissioning of weapons, which I read about here. Bascially he is calling the bluff of both sides - do they genuinely want peace, or not? I do not care to mock his gesture.