Since the IRA and Loyalist ceasefires, Northern Ireland has changed utterly - troops no longer patrol the streets, tourism is booming and President Clinton's historic visit provided the first real celebration of the peace. But Nationalists now feel their high hopes are being dashed, while Unionists remain fearful of a united Ireland. What are the factors that will affect the outcome of the political talks? This study explores the risks and opportunities of the fragile peace process with studies of: key figures, such as Gusty Spence, David Trimble and Martin McGuinness; analysis of Loyalist radicalism; in-depth reports of reaction to the framework document, and the seeming intractability of the de-commissioning issue. The balanced commentary on paramilitary punishment beatings, the Private Lee Clegg controversy, the push-pull pressures of the post-ceasefire economy, and the tensions between old- and new-style Unionism, bring into focus the complex forces underlying Northern Ireland's current uneasy optimism.