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He'll be dead by Christmas

(by Mike Browne, The People)

Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair won't see Christmas, UDA bosses vowed last night.

Loyalist sources claim the convicted paramilitary chief at the centre of the UDA feud will either be killed by its members, who have promised "this is one Mad Dog who won't see Christmas", or be exposed as a gangster. Last night (Sat, Oct 5) The People learned that Adair could survive the bloody loyalist feud - because Secretary of State John Reid is considering putting him back behind bars!

This week it was claimed that members of the south Belfast UDA are gearing up to kill Adair, although this was denied by a source. He stressed that while Adair retains some loyalty, this would not last.

"Those standing by him are on big wages, so they'll stand by him regardless. But Adair fears the truth more than he fears bullets.

"His people don't want to be seen throwing him to the wolves, but when the truth comes out, nobody will be able to defend him." Insults

Adair was sentenced to 16 years in 1994 for directing terrorism but released under the Good Friday Agreement. He was recently booted out of the UDA, along with colleague Johnny White, over claims they sided with the Loyalist Volunteer Force. Both men refused to quit their roles, signalling a feud, as both sides traded insults.

The latest victim, Jim 'Greyhound' Gray, was gunned down in a leafy east Belfast suburb on Friday night. The threat against Adair has been rubbished by White who told us: "Talk is cheap. We haven't security or armed guards around us.

"We continue to work on the ground for the community and have the confidence of the people in the west of the city and the province."

A top west Belfast UDA source slammed those UDA chiefs hoping to sideline Adair.

"The west Belfast UDA has not gone away. We're still here and like the sign says, it's business as usual. It's up to the council to make the next move.

"They have massive security in their areas in case they're attacked, but we have no such plans."

White claims Adair has the support of the UDA rank and file across the province. Mediation has been ruled out by both sides. White said: "We've nothing to talk with them about."

But a top rival claimed: "The inner council is sticking by its guns. There's no way back for those two boys. Adair thought he'd do what he liked, and the council told him he can't do that. And there'll be no mediation."

Since the expulsions of Adair and White, there have been three further shootings as the UDA sought revenge for the LVF attack on its east Belfast boss Jim Gray.

Threats were made to the chiefs behind the expulsion orders in the name of the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name for the LVF and Adair's lower Shankill organisation. But a massive security net over the city, and in particular West Belfast, is preventing an all-out war.

Said one loyalist observer: "It's not hard to see the next move.

"After the latest murder there will be revenge attacks."

Reliable loyalist sources claim Adair's ties to the LVF in mid-Ulster have now been broken, although the move may be too late for its mid-Ulster chief Robin 'Billy' King.

A UDA source refused to deny it is targeting a 'rural' LVF chief: "That's the nature of the last 30 years. People can't get away with shooting an inner council member. If that happened everybody would be opening up on them."

King lives in Lurgan where he is despised by the rival UVF. One source said senior UDA figures had met UVF bosses in recent days to discuss a pact where the UDA would move against Adair in Belfast if the UVF wipe out the Loyalist Volunteer Force in mid-Ulster.

Tensions in east Belfast between the UDA and LVF finally erupted three weeks ago with the unclaimed killing of top LVF member Stephen Warnock in Newtownards, and days later, the wounding of Jim Gray in retailiation, only yards from Warnock's home.

Gray is said to have ordered the attack after being informed that Adair was plotting to replace him with the LVF chief. When Adair refused to sanction a hit on the LVF, the other UDA leaders - Billy 'The Mexican' McFarland, in north Antrim and south-east Antrim boss

John 'Grug' Gregg, McDonald, and a representative for Gray, moved to expel him.

In a shock for Adair, the man he appointed to the council to run north Belfast, Egyptian Andre Shoukri, voted against him. The UDA chiefs made clear that the attack on Gray was an attack on the organisation as a whole, despite Adair's and LVF protests to the contrary.

Adair then stormed out to meet the LVF in Ligoneil. But in a sign of further shifting loyalties, the UFF chief in Banbridge who backed Adair last week, has now received a RHD threat, while the allegiance of the UDA in north Belfast is now anti-Adair. Feud And the UDA source claims a top LVF source has been leaking details of Adair's plans.

He also confirmed Adair's close links to the LVF sealed his fate, as UDA chiefs feared these would re-ignite the UVF-UDA feud of two years ago.

"This has been a problem for years. What happened in the Shankill feud was over an LVF flag being flaunted at the local UVF, just after the LVF had killed Richard Jameson.

"That was a disaster. Now he was trying to bring LVF units into the UFF."

Adair's links to the mid-Ulster LVF began with his friendship with LVF chief Billy 'King Rat' Wright in the mid-90s, and after Wright's murder in 1997, joined forces in a number of murders, drug dealing and Drumcree stand-offs.

Now it seems these links to the LVF are gone, with one source claiming that King has been told by Adair not to return to west Belfast.

There are claims Adair is about to leave Ulster and move to Scotland in a bid to expand his drugs empire - though he has been warned to stay away from today's Old Firm clash in Glasgow. Loyalist sources say he has been dumped by the rural LVF, who although supportive, are unwilling to allow him to simply take over their organisation

"They're finding what we found, he expects everyone to move down one for him, and they're not prepared to take that," said the source.

However, there are also claims that King was recently ordered by Adair to stay away from Ulster Defence Association rackets, after King's right-hand man tried to move in on the UDA in Dromore.

October 12, 2002

This article appeared in the October 6, 2002 edition of the The People.