Every picture tells a story even if some people don't want it told. An historic peace agreement in Northern Ireland seemed at hand last week but then fell apart, apparently over the issue of photographing the disposal of I.R.A. weapons. Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley, 78, insisted that pictures must be taken of the destruction of weaponry that republicans have hoarded since their cease-fire was announced a decade ago. The I.R.A. refused, saying Paisley would use the pictures to "humiliate" them. The standoff was particularly frustrating for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has been to Belfast 33 times in seven years trying to secure a deal. Still, Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern got Paisley and Sinn Fein, the I.R.A.'s political allies, to agree on previously hot issues like policing. Solving the stalemate may be tricky, but even Paisley, a die-hard unionist, has a reason to cut a deal: if his party confirms him as Northern Ireland's First Minister, it could lead the country for a generation. Sinn Fein needs to ditch the I.R.A. someday to get into power on both sides of the Irish border, a big step toward its ultimate goal of north-south Irish unity. Paisley's still opposed to that, but says he's willing to argue. "If they leave down their guns, I am prepared to talk with them," he said.