In some parts of Northern Ireland, defense contractors have been welcomed with open arms, seen as purveyors of much-needed jobs. But here where the Irish civil rights movement was born and where the 30 years of violence known as the Troubles broke out, the response has been more ambivalent, with some people openly hostile to the idea of using peace to cash in on war.
Raytheon Co., the arms manufacturer based in Lexington, Massachusetts, recently opened a software center here, and local criticism forced the company to take the unusual step of declaring that none of its work here would be directly connected to the defense industry.
Jackie Berger, a Raytheon spokeswoman, said the 57 engineers and support staff currently employed in Londonderry were working on civilian air traffic control systems. But in an interview, she said the company planned to expand the staff to 150 by 2002.
In the future, "we may do defense work," she said. "In all likelihood we will. We are, after all, a defense company." Of Raytheon's Irish critics, she added, "The people causing the friction are a small minority."
Small, perhaps, but dogged.
"We're a concerned minority," countered Shane O'Curry, a Raytheon opponent. "In a democracy, when you have a legitimate question, it doesn't matter how many are asking the question."
Jim Keys, a leader of the Foyle Ethical Investment Campaign, contended that Raytheon, by vehemently insisting that its work in Londonderry was not defense-related, had accepted the premise that it would be wrong for it to engage here in work related to weapons.
Mr. Keys and others want the company to state unequivocally that it will not use its plant to make anything remotely connected to killing other people. Mr. Keys accused Raytheon of being secretive and refusing to meet with its critics in hope that the controversy would die away.
With the local newspaper a vocal cheerleader for the new jobs that Raytheon will bring and with virtually every member of the city's establishment firmly backing the company, the debate has been limited.
But it could become more visible this month when city councilors tour the Raytheon site for the first time.
The arrival of Raytheon has put an uncomfortable spotlight on John Hume, the leader of moderate nationalists in Northern Ireland and Londonderry's most famous politician. Mr. Hume - who along with David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist leader, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 for stewardship of the peace process - envisions an Irish Silicon Valley in the Foyle region of Northern Ireland, and companies such as Raytheon are crucial to fulfilling that dream.
Mr. Hume, whose principled stand against violence in Northern Ireland has made him an international statesman, has been stung by criticism suggesting that he has checked his principles at the door in a blind pursuit of jobs.
In an interview, the normally loquacious Mr. Hume refused to talk about the subject at any length, underscoring its sensitivity.
"I don't want to get into it," he said.
Asked whether, as a pacifist whose heroes include Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., he saw any conflict in his active role in bringing the defense industry to the cradle of the Irish civil rights movement, Mr. Hume said the Raytheon office in Londonderry was not part of the arms industry.
"They are making software," he said. "I want the Foyle Valley to become the Silicon Valley of Europe, and that's happening."
Annie Courtney, a city councilor in Mr. Hume's Social Democratic and Labor Party, was less reticent.
"We are not saying 'jobs at any price,'" she said. She noted that Raytheon had not applied for special security status, suggesting that the company was telling the truth when it said the work in the city was not defense-related. But she added: "There is little difference between software that guides missiles or brings in aircraft safely. I think we're splitting hairs here."
When Raytheon announced its plans to come to Londonderry, its chairman and chief executive, Daniel Burnham, said, "Raytheon is indebted to John Hume for his unwavering encouragement."
Mr. Hume welcomed Raytheon by saying, "The company has recognized that the dividend from peace is still flourishing."
He was joined by Mr. Trimble in welcoming Raytheon, something that Robbie McVeigh, a local economist and human rights activist, called a "shameful spectacle."
"It is cruelly ironic when the possession of a Nobel Prize is a key qualification for the advocacy of the arms industry," Mr. McVeigh said.
Mairead Maguire, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for reconciliation efforts in Northern Ireland, is firmly opposed to allowing defense contractors to set up base.
"One of the greatest challenges to the integrity of our peace process," she said, "is the concerted attempt by the international arms trade to establish a stronger presence in Northern Ireland and the Republic," referring to the Republic of Ireland. "Our responses will demonstrate the depth of the hard-won lessons of the past 30 years, lessons about human rights, about conflict transformation and resolution."
As a Belfast-based political scientist and a former politician in Mr. Hume's party, Brian Feeney regards the controversy as peculiar to the city that most people call Derry.
"In Belfast, you won't hear this argument," Mr. Feeney said. "It's just, 'Give us the jobs; we don't care what they are.' But Derry was always different."
It was here in the late 1960s that Catholics modeled their civil rights movement on that of African-Americans.
When it was brutally repressed by the authorities, Mr. Hume led the nonviolent campaign of civil disobedience that was gradually overshadowed by a virtual civil war. In 1972, when British troops opened fire on unarmed demonstrators here, killing 14 of them on what became known as Bloody Sunday, any chance of peacefully resolving the conflict was lost for three decades.
While Mr. Hume's position as an international statesman and Nobel laureate has many critics pointing at him individually, his support for Raytheon is shared by all the main political parties, including Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army.
While fighting raged in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein denounced imperialism and the use of sophisticated weapons against indigenous peoples. Today, Sinn Fein's official position is to say it has no problem with Raytheon's being here, as long as it is not involved in building weapons.
Mary Nelis, a Sinn Fein city councilor, winced when asked whether she supported the party line.
"I wish our position was stronger," she said. "I have real concerns."